Caring for the Poor: Ministry to Christ
The thing we do for broken people touch the heart of Jesus Himself.
If you knew that a certain habit or action had a direct, positive impact on Jesus Himself, would you do it more? If so, perhaps it’s to get serious about caring for the poor.
The Bible gives us an abundance of reasons why we should devote some of our time and resources to caring for the poo. Giving is a mandate from Christ, motivated by God’s love in us. It gets God’s attention, and proves to the world that our faith is real.
When we give to the poor, we are caring for Christ Himself.
If none of these reasons inspires you, though, maybe this one will: When we give to the poor, we are caring for Christ Himself.
Jesus in the Least of These
For more on this, we turn to Matthew 25:34-40, where Jesus tells His disciples about how He will judge people in heaven.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
Jesus is describing a scene in the afterlife when He will commend the people whohave been faithful to follow Him. He praises them for feeding and caring for Him when He was in need. When the faithful say that they don’t remember doing this, He explains what He means: When caring for the poor and needy on earth is the same as caring for Christ Himself.
Caring for the Poor: Taking It Personally
Does Jesus secretly walks the earth disguised as a poor person, quietly waiting to see who help Him out? I don’t think so. But He does care so much for the poor that He takes our actions toward them personally.
Think about it this way: When you hear someone insulting a family member, you’ll probably take that insult to heart. The statement wasn’t directed at you, but you feel its sting all the same.
Why? Because you love your family, and your love connects you to them. When they rejoice, you rejoice. When they suffer, you suffer.
What we see in this story, then, is just how much Jesus loves the poor. Although the world often mistreats or forgets the poor among us, Jesus is passionate about them and connected to them by a bond of love.
And He takes it personally when we treat them well. And when we don’t.
Touching the Heart of Christ
When we hurt the poor, He feels their pain. When we care for them, provide for them and love on them, He feels love as well.
Jesus doesn’t walk around on this earth in the flesh anymore. Instead, He has dispatched us to do the things He did when He was here.
Practicing generosity requires seeing people the way that Jesus sees them. He cares about the poor so much that He left His heavenly position to come and dwell among them. He healed their sicknesses and provided for their needs. And He ultimately gave His life to ransom them (and us) for eternity.
Jesus doesn’t walk around on this earth in the flesh anymore. Instead, He has dispatched us to do the things He did when He was here. And that means caring for the poor as He cared for them.
When we give to the poor, we’re not only doing the work of Christ: We’re also touching the heart of Christ. That encounter makes a difference in our hearts and reverberates in eternity.
Anything we do for the least of people in this world, we do for Jesus Himself.