Isaiah 58:6,7—Isn’t this the fast I choose: To break the chains of wickedness, to untie the ropes of the yoke, to set the oppressed free, and to tear off every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, to bring the poor and homeless into your house, to clothe the naked when you see him, and not to ignore your own flesh and blood?
I wonder if the number of people we see that are begging increases the easier it becomes to ignore them? That may seem contradictory but, after awhile, noticing those holding signs asking for money or food becomes so commonplace that it is hard to feel compassion—especially when the news reports that many of these sign holders have found an easy way to make money and don’t truly need help. It is a whole different feeling for me when I observe people who are obviously homeless. When the winter rolls in and the sun goes to sleep earlier, I feel bad for those who are out surviving the bitter cold.
Regardless of whether people choose to be homeless or, are just going through a difficult time, did you know that God has a heart for them? The prophet Isaiah makes it clear that God is much more interested in how we treat people than in how we go about the trappings of religion. The Israelites asked why God didn’t notice them when they deprived themselves of food. His response was that their lives bore the fruit of hypocrisy. For in the midst of fasting, they treated people poorly and acted ugly.
The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 4:11,13, “Up to the present hour we are both hungry and thirsty; we are poorly clothed, roughly treated, homeless . . . Even now, we are like the world’s garbage, like the dirt everyone scrapes off their sandals.” His provocative words unsettle me. I don’t think I considered the fact that a homeless person might be a godly saint. It didn’t register with me that someone out there suffering might be serving God and yet be deprived and discouraged for any number of reasons. Not only are there people who are homeless and need Jesus, there are people who are homeless who know Jesus!
If I was hungry and thirsty, cold and abused, left outside and without shelter I would welcome the opportunity to receive blessing. To be generous, compassionate and discerning requires observation. I cannot see opportunity if I am busy ignoring what is around me. Is it not profound that God, observing all people, sent His Son to live on earth! Jesus, left naked, tortured then treated like the world’s garbage, rose from a tomb to give us eternity. Heaven opens its doors to a sin-tainted, homeless populace. God covers in grace those willing to confess with their mouth and believe in their heart that Jesus is Lord. Something to think about . . . in reveration.
Jesus commands us to help, and as Christians we must do what we can. Our challenge is to find a way that preserves dignity and does not create or perpetuate dependency.—Glenn Schwartz in When Charity Destroys Dignity
©2016Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)