Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Open Hands and Generous Hearts

Today's Reading:
Deut. 13:1-15:23
Acts 7:1-29
Psalm 52:1-9
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Deuteronomy 15:7-11
7 If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. 8 Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs. 9 Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: "The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near," so that you do not show ill will toward your needy brother and give him nothing. He may then appeal to the LORD against you, and you will be found guilty of sin. 10 Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. 11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.

One of the truly astounding aspects of the Mosaic Law is its concern for the welfare of the widow, orphan, slave, and alien. God expected his people to live with compassion, concern, and generosity toward those who were in need. Those who were doing well were to see their well-being as a blessing from God. They were expected to give "without a grudging heart" and to be "openhanded" to the poor. There will always be someone in need, so those who are in a position to help must always be ready and willing to do so. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7).

Response and Action:
Do I have concern for those who are in need? Do I have compassion for those who are in circumstances that lead to poverty? If so, how do I demonstrate this compassion and concern?

I must be ready to pitch in and give when someone around me is in need. I should also encourage my church family to be ready to meet practical needs within our fellowship and in the community around us. I can also be an advocate for social programs on the local, state, and federal level, that are directed  toward meeting the needs of the poor and the alien.

I must be realistic about poverty; it is persistent and ongoing. My concern for those in poverty must likewise be persistent and ongoing.

O God, you have been so gracious and generous to me. Give me a heart like you -- compassionate toward the poor and generous to the needy. Give me the attitude of Christ Jesus, who emptied himself for my sake. Help me to be cheerful and openhanded as I share the blessings you've given me with those who are in need. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: 1 John 3:17-18
17 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

Practical Justice: Living Off-center in a Self-centered World 
by Kevin Blue

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