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                     "WE SHOULD REMEMBER THE POOR"


INTRODUCTION

1. The early Christians demonstrated great liberality toward the poor,
   especially brethren...
   a. The church at Jerusalem - Ac 2:44-45; 4:34-37
   b. The church at Antioch - Ac 11:27-30
   c. The churches of Macedonia - 2Co 8:1-4

2. Paul in particular was engaged in helping poor Christians...
   a. He was asked to remember the poor - Ga 2:9-10
   b. He instructed churches on how to take up a collection - 1Co 16:
      1-4
   c. He accompanied such a collection to the needy saints in Jerusalem
      - Ro 15:25-26
   -- It can truly be said that the early church did "remember the poor"

3. Today, some are more likely to revile the poor than remember them...
   a. If someone is poor asking for help, they are assumed to be lazy
   b. If inclined to help, the poor are expected to earn what they are
      given

4. Yet God has chosen to bless the poor...
   a. In the words of Jesus - Lk 6:20
   b. In the words of James - Jm 2:5

[Therefore a Biblical study on the subject of the poor and poverty can
be beneficial, lest we fall short in our duty to "remember the poor".
Let's start with...]

I. UNDERSTANDING THE POOR AND POVERTY

   A. THOSE WHO ARE POOR...
      1. Includes those who may have absolutely nothing, or very little
         - cf. Mk 12:41-44
      2. Also those who have enough to offer meager sacrifices - cf. Lev
         14:21-22
      -- One does not have to be completely destitute to be considered
         'poor'

   B. CAUSES OF POVERTY...
      1. Sometimes it is due to sinful actions on the part of the
         individual
         a. Laziness - Pr 6:6-11
         b. Refusing to heed correction - Pr 13:18
         c. Pleasure seeking - Pr 21:17
         d. Drunkenness, gluttony - Pr 23:21
      2. Other times it is due to sinful actions of other men
         a. Usury and extortion - Pr 28:8
         b. Greed - Isa 3:14-15
         c. Unfair labor practices - Jer 22:13
         d. Oppression - Am 4:1
         e. Persecution - 2Co 8:1-2; He 10:32-34
      3. It can also be due to natural disasters
         a. Plague, economic depression, war
         b. Hurricane, earthquake, tsunami
      4. It may be due to God's chastisement
         a. As was the case in Haggai's day - Hag 1:5-11
         b. Again in the days of Malachi - Mal 3:8-12
      5. It can be due to voluntary choice
         a. As in the case of Jesus - Lk 9:57-58
         b. As in the case of His apostles - Mk 10:28; 2Co 6:10
      -- One cannot assume that poverty is due to laziness or wickedness

[Poverty has many causes, and both Moses and Jesus taught the poor would
be with us (Deut 15:11; Mt 26:11).  God hears the cries of the poor (Psa
69:33), and it is interesting to note how He made provision for them in
both the Old and New Testament...]

II. PROVISION FOR THE POOR IN THE LAW

   A. AS CHARGED BY MOSES...
      1. The poor were not to be charged interest - Exo 22:25; Lev 25:
         35-38
      2. The fruit of fallow ground during the seventh year was for the
         poor - Exo 23:10-11
      3. They were allowed to glean the fields after the harvest - Lev
         19:9-10; Deut 24:19-22
      4. They could satisfy their hunger in the vineyards and grain
         fields- Deut 23:24-25; Lk 6:1
      5. The tithe for the third year was reserved for special groups of
         the poor - Deut 14:28-29
      6. Debts were to be canceled every seven years - Deut 15:1-4
      7. Hebrew slaves had to be set free after six years - Deut 15:12-15
      -- Israel was charged to be careful in their attitude toward the
         poor - Deut 15:7-11

   B. AS COUNSELED BY SOLOMON...
      1. Happy is the one who shows mercy to the poor - Pr 14:21
      2. He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker - Pr 14:31
      3. He who mocks the poor reproaches his Maker - Pr 17:5
      4. He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord who will pay him
         back - Pr 19:17
      5. Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor, will cry and
         not be heard - Pr 21:13
      6. The person with a generous eye will be blessed, having given to
         the poor - Pr 22:9
      7. He who gives to the poor will not lack, But he who hides his
         eyes will have many curses - Pr 28:27
      8. The virtuous woman extends her hand to the poor, and reaches
         her hands out to the needy - Pr 31:20
      -- Such concern for the poor is a mark of righteousness and
         wisdom - Pr 29:7

[If the Law of Moses displayed such concern and provision for the poor,
we should not be surprised to find a similar concern and provision in
the gospel of Christ...]

III. PROVISION FOR THE POOR IN THE GOSPEL

   A. AS COMMANDED BY JESUS...
      1. In His sermon on the mount - Mt 5:42
      2. In His sermon on the plain - Lk 6:34-36
      3. In His words to one who invited Him into his home - Lk 14:12-14
      -- Jesus taught we should be willing to help the poor

   B. AS CHARGED BY HIS APOSTLES AND PROPHETS...
      1. Paul, in several of his epistles - Ro 12:13; 1Ti 6:17-19
      2. The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews - He 13:16
      3. James, in describing pure and undefiled religion before God
         - Jm 1:27
      4. John, in describing the love of God, exemplified by Jesus
         - 1Jn 3:16-19
      5. For needy Christians, churches were charged how to provide aid
         a. With a weekly collection, as one prospers - 1Co 16:1-2
         b. With thoughtful purpose, and a cheerful heart - 2Co 9:1,7
      6. Yet the local church most not be burdened (for its mission is
         spiritual, not social)...
         a. Individuals are to fulfill their familial duties - 1Ti 5:16
         b. Individuals have their duty to be a 'good Samaritan' - cf.
            Lk 10:29-37
      -- As we have opportunity, we have the duty to do good unto all
         men - Ga 6:10

CONCLUSION

1. Can we not see why the early Christians were so diligent to help the
   poor...?
   a. They were not only obeying the commandments of Jesus and His
      apostles
   b. They were also displaying compassion that has always characterized
      the people of God

2. There are certainly good reasons to "remember the poor"...
   a. Those who do are blessed by the Lord - Ps 41:1-3
   b. God has chosen the poor to be rich in faith and heirs of the
      kingdom - Jm 2:5

3. What can we do to remember the poor...?
   a. Give liberally to the church, for the benefit of needy Christians
   b. Give liberally to charitable organizations, to help others who may
      be in need

Let's honor God and glorify Christ by remembering the poor...

   "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially
   to those who are of the household of faith." - Gal 6:10
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