Pity on the Poor

Proverbs 19:17  

He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, and He will pay back what he has given.

This proverb describes one of the most basic and essential characteristics of Christianity—Christians are to be givers. It isn’t enough to just profess a belief in God and the Bible; Christians are expected to act on that profession. They are to demonstrate it by their love and concern for others. As this proverb teaches us, this characteristic should be exercised especially when we see others in need.

Does this mean we should give all our wealth, possessions and energy to fighting poverty all around the world? No, the Bible teaches that spiritual poverty is a greater problem than physical poverty and that poverty cannot be solved merely by throwing money at it (Revelation 3:17; Matthew 26:11).

What this proverb and other scriptures clearly teach is that when we see individual needs within our sphere of influence, we are to give and serve. The apostle John discussed this within the greater context of love: “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 John 3:17).

The teaching is clear: When we see others in need (especially brothers—fellow members of the Church of God), we are expected to help if we have the physical resources to do so (see also Galatians 6:10).

We also learn that when we give, God notices and will bless us (Proverbs 28:27; Isaiah 58:7-11; 2 Corinthians 9:6). Though God does promise blessings for helping those in need, it is important to remember that our primary motivation for giving should always be love and concern for others (John 13:35; 1 John 3:18).

To learn more about how Christianity is characterized by the way of give, read “Christian Giving.”

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