Today we continue our series, “Progress On Purpose.” I told you that God wants us to walk in “NEW LEVELS IN 2021!” But if we are going to do so, we must be intentional about our progress. With that in mind, as we lay the foundation for the year, I told you that I would discuss “Leveling Up” in five areas:
We have covered the first one thus far. As we study the second (leveling up financially), I am breaking this down into the following five topics:
1. Soul Prosperity & the Answer to Poverty
2. Tithes and Offerings
3. Sowing into Ministry
4. Giving to the Poor
5. The Purpose of Prosperity
We have covered three of these five thus far. Today I will address giving to the poor/less fortunate.
So what does this mean for you today? A few things.
1. This planet will always have people who are considered poor.
Jesus said, “The poor you will always have with you always.” (Matthew 26:11).
There are many reasons why some people seem less fortunate than others.
— Some were born into difficult circumstances. I recently read an article that said that what qualifies as “poor” in the United States is 31 times higher than poverty in some other nations. I can’t validate these numbers, but I believe you get the point. I was born in Brooklyn, NY, and raised on public assistance. Thankfully, my mother ensured I never lacked a thing. But my point is that while we may have been considered poor in this country (at the time), by the standards of other countries, we were FAR from poor. My wife, Isabella, can testify. I told her that I was raised poor. But after we got married and she saw that I had birthday parties growing up, I always had food, I had toys, electricity, an atari, a computer, and the pictures to prove it, made it clear to her that I far from the “poor” she grew up in. Not only did she not have running water or electricity, and not only were there many days where she did not have food to eat, but she can’t show me pictures of her childhood because her family did not have a camera. So, needless to say, some people are born into difficult financial situations, and as a young person, you have no control over it.
— Some have made poor financial decisions. While there are many people who are considered poor because of circumstances they had no control over, there are equally as many people who are in a financial bind because of the poor decisions they have made. Financial literacy is not taught in our schools, and unfortunately, it is also not taught in many homes. As a result, many young people grow up with bad financial habits, and before they know it, they are in a financial hole, and they spent years, sometimes all their lives, trying to get out.
The point of today’s message is not to judge people or try to figure out why some people have more than others. Jesus said, “The poor you will always have with you always.” (Matthew 26:11). So, for those of us who are not struggling financially, what are we supposed to do about it? That’s what I will talk about today.
2. Giving to the poor in the Old Testament.
God used the Prophet Zechariah to issue a call to justice and mercy to the nation of Israel. This is what God sent through his servant:
(Zec 7:8-10 NLT)
8 Then this message came to Zechariah from the Lord:
9 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another.
10 Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And do not scheme against each other.
In the Old Testament, God’s children collected portions of their money to support widows, orphans, foreigners (a.k.a. “strangers at the gate”), and the poor. While giving is never a hardline mandate, per se, it was most certainly a common practice, and it is one we can learn from today.
3. What the Bible has to say about giving to the poor.
God made Solomon the richest man on the planet, and this is what he said about giving to the poor.
Let’s look at three scriptures:
(Proverbs 18:27 ERV)
Whoever gives to the poor will have plenty.
(Proverbs 19:17 ERV)
Giving help to the poor is like loaning money to the Lord. He will pay you back for your kindness.
(Proverbs 22:9 ERV)
Generous people will be blessed, because they share their food with the poor.
Solomon was obviously in support of being a blessing to the poor. What the Holy Spirit said through Solomon should make it clear that a portion of your giving should be dedicated to this category. Honoring God with the tithe, giving offerings beyond that, and financially supporting ministries that are advancing God’s Kingdom all over this planet are all great. But please do not forget to give to the less fortunate directly, or to partner with ministries that are doing so.
In the New Testament, Paul said,
(1 Tim 6:17-19 CEV)
17 Warn the rich people of this world not to be proud or to trust in wealth that is easily lost. Tell them to have faith in God, who is rich and blesses us with everything we need to enjoy life.
— God did not say money was bad.
— God said NOT TO TRUST IN IT!
— God gives you everything you need to have and ENJOY LIFE!
— Don’t love stuff… ENJOY IT!
— God gives us richly all things to ENJOY!
18 Instruct them to do as many good deeds as they can and to help everyone. Remind the rich to be generous and share what they have.
19 This will lay a solid foundation for the future, so that they will know what true life is like.
— We are supposed to do good deeds and help everyone.
— We are commanded to be generous, and a portion of our generosity should go to the poor.
— God gives you MORE THAN ENOUGH (OVERFLOW), so you can BE a blessing to others! But YOU have to do it. God won’t force you. You must CHOOSE to be generous with your overflow!
4. Giving to the less fortunate comes down to empathy, compassion, and God’s love.
— The answer to poverty is NOT in any gift. I already explained how the answer to poverty is THE WORD OF GOD. Jesus never gave money to the poor. He gave the poor His Word. But the gift is simply to show the love of God and to draw people with God’s love.
— When you willingly give to the less fortunate and go out of your way to BE a blessing, you are becoming God’s hands and feet on this planet.
— Simply put, one of the ways you express the love of God is by sharing your time, talent, and treasure with those who are less fortunate.
*** There’s a blessing in it for you too… and I am not talking about money. When you give to the poor, with no strings attached, without expecting anything in return, you receive something ON THE INSIDE that money cannot buy!
Declaration of Faith:
Father, I know it is Your desire that I walk in NEW LEVELS in 2021. You are leading me to LEVEL UP in every area of my life. I level up financially. I honor You with the tithe, I give offerings above and beyond the tithe, I open my heart to be able to fund Your Kingdom projects around the world, and I give to the less fortunate. As I give to those in need, I do so with empathy and compassion. As I allow Your Spirit to fill my heart with Your love, and as I pour out that love to others, I cannot help but give You praise. When You use me to be a conduit of blessing to other people, I come back from that encounter with a level of gratitude that is hard to express in words. Thank You, Father for blessing me to BE a blessing on this planet. I will be Your hands and feet. Glory me… that I may glorify thee! This year I become a conduit of Kingdom finance. GREATER IS COMING FOR ME! I declare this by faith. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
This is Today’s Word. Apply it and prosper!