REDISCOVERING THE ANCIENT PATH—Week of March 7, 2021
Help the Poor: Matt. 25:36
We are in Week 5 of our examination of Benedict of Nursia’s rules for Christian formation. This week, and for the next few weeks, we will be examining rules that focus on care for others. This week we will continue our journey down this ancient path by examining Rule 4.14: Help the Poor.
To understand this rule, I think it helps to mindful of the times in which Benedict lived. As we’ve discussed, it was a time of political and social turmoil. Many lived their lives not knowing what the next day might bring. As we observed in 2020, times of turmoil and uncertainty do not tend to breed human charity. Our society didn’t face near the turmoil the Romans of Benedict’s day faced, yet we attacked one another for toilet paper. Though many had plenty of the staples of life, still they hoarded for fear of being without. Those with little struggled because those with much stored up for themselves. Benedict believed one the best ways for Christians to combat such worldly impulses was to show care for others—particularly the poor. So, how does helping the poor help us in this area?
- Helping the poor is important because it reminds us that we are all created in the image of God. It is easy to see the image of God in those we love or those who are attractive or wealthy. But how are we at seeing the image of God in the poor and destitute? In our Americanized view of Christianity, we often judge others based on their ability to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps.” We love a good rags to riches story. When we have more than we need and things are seemingly going our way, we are “blessed.” But does that mean that those who struggle financially are not blessed? Does God love them less? Helping the poor reminds us that the answer is a resounding “NO!”
- Helping the poor is important because it reminds us that we are all spiritually bankrupt. Because of sin, we are all born in spiritual poverty, unable to redeem ourselves out of our desperate situation. But God in his love and mercy poured out all the riches of his grace into our lives. Our appreciation of God’s generosity towards us should be reflected in our generosity towards others. (Matt. 5:3)
- Helping the poor gives us the opportunity to learn from the faith of others. The poor have much to teach us when it comes to faith. Which takes more faith: not knowing where your next meal will come from, or not knowing which restaurant you should try after Church this Sunday? It is easy to say we have faith when we sit in our plenty and keep it all for ourselves. But true faith is on display when we identify with and show love and compassion to those in need. (Jas. 2:5-17)
- Take a moment to consider your spiritual poverty apart from Christ. Consider where you might be but for God’s grace. What emotions well up within you?
- How could you translate the emotions you just experienced into actions for others?
- What do you currently do to make yourself available to help the poor? What can you do to make yourself more available to help the poor? List some tangible actions you can take and develop a plan to make them happen.
- How does you helping the poor reflect the nature and character of God?