A Powerful Inducement to Liberality
"He who is kind to the poor, lends to the Lord; and He will reward him for what he has done." Proverbs 19:17
One design of the religion of the Bible, is to remove us from the region of selfishness and covetousness, in which we all dwell by nature — and to teach us self-denial and true Christian charity. He who dislikes such a topic as this, is in an unhealthy state of mind; for the Lord's Word is very plain and pointed on the subject.
Let us notice the interesting position of the poor: they are the Lord's representatives and collectors; they come to us in God's name, and ask of us — as from Him who gave us our all.
Everything we have is from God. Are you in the habit of viewing things thus? Your property is from God. Did you earn it? Who gave you the talent, the opportunity, the health to do so? Did you inherit it? Who appointed that you should be born in such a connection, at such a time, and directed your relatives or friends to leave it to you? Is it much — or is it little? Who fixed the measure and the sum? These things come forth from the Lord Almighty, who is wise in heart, excellent in counsel, and wonderful in working.
The poor are our tests. The Lord by them tests our professions and our principles. He has informed us in His word what He requires. He sends the poor to us — to see if we regard His authority, and observe His commands. He notices how we conduct ourselves towards them.
Observe the true character of benevolent donations — they are loans to the Lord. We should recognize . . .
His hand in the application,
His authority requiring us to give,
His eyes as observing our movements,
His heart as approving genuine benevolence,
His memory as recording every kind action,
and His faithfulness as pledged to reward us.
We may give to the poor — but in so doing, we only lend to the Lord.
Consider the great inducement to liberality — what is given to the poor — the Lord will repay. He places it to our account, and assures us we shall never lack it. "He who gives to the poor will lack nothing — but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses!" (Proverbs 28:27.) Here the Lord engages to prevent our future lack.
Such shall be happy, "He who has mercy on the poor — happy is he." (Proverbs 14:21) They shall be blessed, "A generous man will himself be blessed — for he shares his food with the poor." (Proverbs 22:9) Man will bless him, and God will bless him too! "Blessed is he who has regard for the poor; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble. The Lord will protect him and preserve his life. He will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desire of his foes. The Lord will sustain him on his sickbed and restore him from his bed of illness." (Psalm 41:1-3.) His kindness shall be returned — as Joseph returned his brethren's money in their sacks.
"Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again. Give portions to seven, yes to eight, for you do not know what disaster may come upon the land." (Ecclesiastes 11:1, 2.), "One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." (Proverbs 11:24, 25.)
The descendants of the liberal shall be blessed, "I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed." (Psalm 37:25, 26.)
God is pleased with the liberal, "And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." (Hebrews 13:16.)
Thus, you perceive that the Lord is a bounteous receiver — even though the poor to whom you give should prove ungrateful. Therefore while their conduct should make us prudent — His promise should keep us benevolent.
Brethren, in giving to the poor — give . . .
from love to Jesus;
from respect to the command of God;
from faith in His gracious promise,
according as you have ability and opportunity.