Doing Well, Doing Good

"Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do." (Galatians 2:10)

"For ye have the poor always with you..." (Matthew 26:11)

The term 'poor' is a relative one. While the "poor" people in America—by America's standards—are richer than most of the rest of the world, the state of contentment the world over seems to be exponentially higher than the US.

"And having food and raiment (clothing) let us be therewith content." (1 Timothy 6:8) He doesn't say anything about a roof over our heads. Maybe that's one of the Christian life's non-essentials?

Please understand, God is lavish in His love and provision. One of His names (El Shaddai) is literally defined as "the God who is more than enough". But a Gospel message of wealth and possession and entitlement only, ends in creating and fostering an atmosphere of coveting and discontent. Freedom too, left unchecked and unbalanced and undisciplined, will cause this attitude as well.

"For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich." (2 Corinthians 8:9)

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." (James 1:17)

The question is, what do we do when we have so much more than enough? The answer is not Socialism, for Socialism is an eminently human concept, designed to only go so far and to fail. Working with only what is at hand and denying "the God who is more than enough", does not go to the top floor. Also, our affluence and prospertity is not reason enough for us to stockpile for ourselves only. What do you have? Just like me, everything that we own came to us as a gift from God. And if we desire to be like Him in all our ways, one of the strongest impulses that should drive us is that of generosity. If God is abundantly generous with us, we should endeavor to do the same for others.

"But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality." (2 Corinthians 8:14)

One day on my way to get a cup of coffee, as is my custom, I passed a man leaning against his car and holding a sign indicating he needed gas. There are times when my initial response is a prescribed lack-of-feeling as I tend to be a cautious temperament. But God knew otherwise. I don't normally carry cash and yet had a few dollars on me. I proceeded to go get my cup of coffee, but also to buy him one too. And I also knew what to do with the $5 bill left in my pocket. Upon handing them to the man and seeing his face light up, any trace of both doubt as to whether or not I should give, but also subtle, circumstance-based-depression that I'd been noticing all morning, had vanished. No amount of money or possessions could buy the high-pressure feeling that cleared out my mind and replaced it with the joy of the Lord. And while we may not have all the money in the world, that which we do possess we can give. Be generous. Let the Holy Spirit know that you're willing to give what you have but don't need and He'll sift through what you've got and winnow it down to the essentials.

The last time I moved, I gave away most of my stuff in order to fit into a smaller apartment. In a move that was by turns liberating and redefining, the paradigm of minimalism was firmly implanted in my psyche. Not a loveless legalism, bereft of the life and spontanaeity of the Holy Spirit's involvement, mind you. But I will ever endeavor, from here on, to live life in a way that is purposeful, practical and free of fluff (and too much stuff).

"As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack." (2 Corinthians 8:14)

"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven." (Matthew 5:3)