When you’re reading the Beatitudes, we hear about the poor being blessed. When you read Psalms 41, you hear about those who help the poor being blessed.
Psa 41:1 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.
Psa 41:2 The LORD will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies.
Psa 41:3 The LORD will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.
Personally, this connection seems a little bit loose at first glance. If you help the poor, God will help you especially when you are sick or in pain. What is the connection between these two?
I think that has a lot to do with being comforted. When you help those who are poor, you’re helping them add something that makes their lives more comfortable. If they need food and you provide food, you are obviously filling a very basic need that will make them more comfortable. Sometimes, you can’t change everything to improve someone’s situation, but you can help make them more comfortable in these difficult times.
God is a little bit different, but there are definite similarities here. For one thing, God can make people healthy. He does have the power to change our entire situation even though it is not always His will to do that. What He does promise is that He will be there to comfort us like we are there to comfort other people. Even if you are in bed sick, you have the peace that comes from God. God will be there with you, and He will help you persevere even though your life circumstances might be incredibly difficult or painful.
We want God to be there with us, and we want God to be our comforter. We also have the responsibility though to help those who need comfort all the time. Remember how Jesus always cared about those who needed help, and that should help guide our outlook.
I have an incredible surprise. Job’s friend Zophar is still convinced that Job must have done something wrong to bring all of this punishment onto himself. Job 20 essentially describes a lot of what we have heard before. He outlines what a wicked man is and very strongly implies that Job is among that company.
Here is the conclusion that he came to at the end of the chapter.
Job 20:27 The heaven shall reveal his iniquity; and the earth shall rise up against him.
Job 20:28 The increase of his house shall depart, and his goods shall flow away in the day of his wrath.
Job 20:29 This is the portion of a wicked man from God, and the heritage appointed unto him by God.
I hope that this sounds somewhat familiar to you. Zophar was trying to use the evidence that Job lost everything he possessed to conclude that God must be mad at him because of his wickedness.
On the surface, you would think that this type of attitude would make sense. If we do well, you would think that we would receive blessings. It seems like cause and effect. You do good, and good happens to you.
However, that is an incredibly earthly attitude. First of all, “good” needs to be defined as the will of God. If we do what is in the will of God, then we will be blessed according to the will of God. It may not be materially as we are never promised that in the Bible, but we are told that if we do follow God, we will be rewarded eternally.
Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Eternal life is an incredible reward. Following God provides that. Material condition on earth is in no way indicative of our sins. It is not as if poor people have been extra bad and rich people have been especially good. We all have an obligation to follow God wherever He leads us regardless of circumstances. Zophar did not understand that, but I hope that we all do.
Deuteronomy 24 gives us a nice image of charity. God was essentially telling the people of Israel that they needed to leave some of their harvest for the poor among them.
Deu 24:19 When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands.
Deu 24:20 When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.
Deu 24:21 When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.
Deu 24:22 And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt: therefore I command thee to do this thing.
Historically speaking, this tradition brought about the marriage of Ruth and Boaz which was important. They were in the lineage of Jesus.
However, from a charitable perspective, God is essentially saying that because you have lots of food, you do have an obligation to help the poor. Specifically, you are supposed to help the poor that would not have other means of finding food.
God wants us to be generous. This is a mandate; we are also supposed to give freely and help those around us. Because of who we are as Christians and what we say we believe, we should willing to help those around us even if it is not convenient.
I like to think about Jesus and His generosity. When He was on earth, the people always came to speak with Him or be healed. I am sure that he must have gotten tired every now and then, but he constantly gave of himself to help others.
Maybe in this coming year we can all try to help those around us.