Remembering the Poor

In James 2:14-26 we find the well known discussion of the relationship between faith and works. James gives us an example of how true and living faith ought to (and in fact does) result in good works:

“If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (Jam. 2:15-17).

It is interesting that the example he gives has to do with the needy, particularly those who struggle with obtaining sufficient food and clothing. One of the horrible consequences of the COVID-19 crisis has been that many around the world who were on the edge of being able to sustain their families with enough food have been pushed over the precipice into hunger and destitution. I have heard reports of people all over the world going without food. Families in Peru and Columbia have taken to placing a flag in front of their dwellings to signal the government and others that they have run out of provisions. Missionaries in Africa report the widespread sudden lack of resources. The stories could be multiplied on every continent.

Jesus had said that believers ought not to worry about their daily food or clothing because God cares for them and will provide (Matt. 6:25-34). God’s people ought to trust the Lord, knowing that He can and will take care of their daily needs. We ought not to worry about tomorrow.

Here in James we see another aspect of God’s care and provision: providing through the good works of His people. Pastors and theologians are often fond of saying that God uses means. This is quite true. God regularly accomplishes His sovereign purposes by means of His providence – working in the midst of normal circumstances. Providence is defined in question 11 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism as:

“God’s works of providence are, his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures and all their actions.”

As Christians, we should be asking the Lord to help us to step into those good works which “God prepared beforehand” (Eph. 2:1). Perhaps some of those works will include sharing with the needy some of what God has graciously provided us.

In an article put out by Desiring God Ministries, the author mentions the Apostle Paul’s desire to help the poor. He quotes from Galatians 2 where Paul describes his visit to Jerusalem and his meeting some of the apostolic leaders who then recognized the “grace of God that was given” to Paul, asked him to remember the poor as he went about preaching the gospel and planting churches. Paul describes his desire to help the poor in Gal. 2:10, “they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.”

Did you catch that? Paul not only wanted to help the poor, but he was eager to do it! Are we eager? There are many around the world who will be increasingly needy – both in our own backyards as well as in far away places. How might God be leading us to serve? It is a good question to reflect upon and pray about. God has been generous with us and we should be generous toward others. So often we are not. Selfishness is a tendency of the human heart. But thanks be to God that the redeemed are being transformed into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ day by day by the power of the Holy Spirit!

Please pray for the people of Belize. There are many needs. But God is also doing a work. MTW is working with the Presbyterian Church in Belize to serve in as many ways as we can. If you think about us, would you ask the Lord to use our efforts to serve to not only help those in physical need, but to meet the even greater spiritual need of men, women and children? I’m talking about the need of every person to be reconciled with God through Jesus Christ the only Mediator between God and men. In Him alone is found forgiveness of sins, righteousness, joy, eternal life and all else that pertains to belonging to Christ.