All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. Acts 4:32
Have you ever taken time to look at God’s provisions for his children in Bible times? It’s quite instructive the way God worked through his people to ensure that all needs were met, and yet, no one was robbed of his dignity. Take, for example, the injunction to farmers, “When you reap the harvest of your land, you are not to reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You must not strip your vineyard bare or gather its fallen grapes. Leave them for the poor and the sojourner” (Lev. 19:9, 10).
There’s more: “At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns, so that… the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied” (Deut. 14:28-29). “When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands” (Deut. 24:19). And then, “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God” (Prov. 14:31).
Do you notice that those who had plenty were to leave food for those who had no provision? But, and this is so important, the poor, widows, orphans, and strangers (who weren’t yet established) could maintain their self-respect by gathering the crops that were left growing in the fields or vines. They were able to work for their provision. This is what Ruth did, and her industry attracted the attention of the wealthy farmer, Boaz. (She also attained a place in the lineage of Jesus for her all-round good character.)
Speaking on God’s behalf, Isaiah (58:10) says, “If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” If we wisely invest our resources in ministry to others, God will bless whatever we have. Jesus said, “… 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” (Matt. 25:35). He pointed out that when we minister to others, we are giving to him.
Corbett and Fikkert (When Helping Hurts) address the problem of generosity without understanding… when we rush in to help people without encouraging them to see the many assets they already possess. Remember Moses, when he was complaining to the Lord that he wasn’t the right leader for the Israelites? God’s response to him was, “What’s in your hand?” What do you already have that can be used? Everyone possesses assets that are waiting to be identified.
We shouldn’t be afraid (or stingy) about reaching out in faith to wisely help the truly needy. In fact, one of the big complaints God had against the Israelites—study the writings of the prophets—was the way they treated those among them who suffered and whom they didn’t pity. In words of encouragement, Jesus said, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” (Luke 6:38).
Remember, it’s more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).
Father, help our love for you to be manifested in our deeds for others. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.