The most startling words in the whole Bible just may be: There should be no poor among you (Deuteronomy 15:4). Was God serious about that? Yes. He proved that in many of His commands in the Old Testament. Commands like:

•Don’t harvest your fields to the edges, so that foreigners can glean some of your produce.

•Cancel everyone’s debts every seven years.

•Lend to people who need financial help, even if it’s just one year away from the year of canceling debts.

The Lord carried over that concern for the poor into the New Testament age. In fact, when His Spirit produced the first church, He moved upon people’s hearts to do the following...

(Acts 4:32, 34-35) All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had… There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.

In that seminal season, the Holy Spirit created the church just as the Lord wanted it to be. Look what God did! He showed special concern for the poor. But look what else He did…

Sandwiched between the report of the people’s sharing possessions, and the result of “no needy persons among them” is also the result that the church was blessed with great evangelistic power and impact!

(Acts 4:32-34) No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them.

God’s heart for the poor is so strong He’ll bless whomever shares His concern and does something about it. But here’s the implication: a lack of care for the poor results in a lack of divine blessing.  Could this be a central cause of a church’s malaise?

Consider these questions and then pray the prayer below:

Are there poor people in your church? Why? Are there people with plenty of resources, who are living comfortably? What needs to happen? How can hearts change? What needs to change in your heart?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, I confess that most of my concern is for my own financial and physical welfare, and that of my family. I admit that I walk right past people every Sunday in my own church who have reasons to worry about their food, shelter, clothing and medical expenses, but I do nothing about it. Or maybe I toss a few bucks into the Benevolence Fund occasionally. But the fact remains that our Benevolence Fund provides no real relief for those people. Something way more needs to happen; way more needs to be given. I know that, yet I have done nothing to make sure that happens. Forgive me. Forgive us. Amen.