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Caring for the Poor: Praise and Thanksgiving

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Sometimes it’s all you can muster to have a thankful heart and praise God for the things that He has done in your life. But did you know that there are things that you can do to inspire thanks and praise in other people?

For the past few weeks, we’ve been discussing the many different lessons that the Bible teaches us about the importance of giving to the poor. Jesus commanded us to do it, and the New Testament writers explained that caring for the needy is an expression of God’s love and evidence of a living faith.

Today we’re going to look at another important reason to care for the poor: Our giving inspires them to thank and praise God.

The text for this principle comes from II Corinthians 9:12-13. These verses are part of a larger passage about giving that we’ve cited many times in talking about a Christian approach to finances. Let’s take a look at what these particular verses have to say about the “service” of giving:

12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.

To put this passage in context, Paul is talking about the gifts that he has been collecting for the needy people in the church at Jerusalem, and he’s encouraging the Corinthians to be faithful and generous in giving to help meet the needs of their Christian brothers and sisters. But these gifts won’t just meet the people’s physical needs.

Paul makes a point of saying that giving to help other believers inspires them to praise and thank God. Verse 12 says that the service is “overflowing in many thanks to God.” He goes on in verse 13, saying that “others will praise God” for the obedience and generosity of those who give.

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For me, this is one of the most important reasons to give, and especially to help the poor in the body of Christ. On a normal day, the only way that I can glorify God is to praise Him myself… and some days I do a better job of that than others. But when I give money to help another believer in need, I inspire them to praise God too.

It’s important that we see giving for what it really is. Charity takes care of people’s physical needs, obviously, but it also does more than that. A sincere gift, given in Jesus’ name, does something in a person’s spirit. It gives them a bit of hope, shows them a bit of light, and reflects some of God’s love.

When we give to people, we inspire them to thank and praise God, instead of focusing only on the difficulty of their circumstances.

Giving, then, is a perfect win-win-win situation. When we give, we win by sowing into eternity and reaping the rewards that come along with that. The people who receive our gifts win because their needs are met and their hearts are pointed toward God. And God wins too, because He gets more of what He really desires — the thanks, praise and love of His children.

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Photo by Joshua Blount. Used under Creative Commons License.

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