To really answer the responsibility God has placed upon followers of Jesus, the best starting point is, as always, the Bible. A Listing of every verse dealing with God’s apparent focus on the poor and those in need would be very lengthy because this is a common topic in His Word. Nevertheless, I start with some and a comment/summary of their application and meaning.
Some Bible Verses Showing God’s Heart on the Poor and Needy and the Duty to Give, Serve and Help.
Exodus 23:11 – Every seventh year the fields should lie untended and the poor should be allowed to gather food from your fields.
Leviticus 14:21 – the poor are to give, even if it is less than the more able.
Leviticus 19:9-10 – Leave some of your harvest for the poor and the travelers.
Leviticus 25:35 – Help the poor people so they can continue to live among you.
Deuteronomy 15:4 – The Lord will bless you in the land so much that there need be no poor.
Deuteronomy 15:7-11 – Do not be hard on the poor, give generously to them and the Lord will bless you. There will always be poor people.
Ruth 2:2 – An example of Leviticus 19:9-10, the poor and travelers being allowed to gather leftover grain. The story of Ruth shows the blessing that comes from generosity.
Psalm 12:5 – the poor suffer and God will protect them.
Psalm 14:6 – God is the refuge for the poor from oppressors.
Psalm 35:10 – God rescues the poor and needy.
Psalms 41:1-3 – God blesses and protects those who help the poor.
Psalm 68:10 – God provides to the poor.
Psalm 72:12 – God will deliver the needy and afflicted.
Psalm 140:12 – God gives justice to the poor and needy.
Proverbs 11:25 – A generous person will prosper.
Proverbs 14:21 – Blessed is he who is kind to the needy.
Proverbs 14:31 – Being kind to the poor honors God.
Proverbs 21:13 – God will not listen to those who do not listen to the poor.
Proverbs 22:9 – The generous who share with the poor will be blessed.
Proverbs 22:16 – He who oppresses the poor will come to poverty.
Proverbs 28:27 – If you give to the poor you will lack nothing, if you close your eyes to the poor you will suffer.
Isaiah 41:17 – The Lord will answer the poor and needy.
Isaiah 58:6-7 – God desires the sacrifice of helping the poor and needy.
Isaiah 58:10-11 – If you help the poor and hungry, the Lord will be with you.
Jeremiah 20:13 – God rescues the life of the needy.
Jeremiah 22:16 – To know God means to defend the cause of the poor and needy.
Ezekiel 16:49 – Sodom’s sin was that they did not help the poor and needy.
Amos 4:1 – God disparages the wealthy who oppress the needy.
Zechariah 7:10 – Do not oppress the poor, the widow, the orphan or the foreigner.
Matthew 5:42 – Give to the one who asks.
Matthew 6:1-4 – Give privately and you will be rewarded.
Matthew 25:31-46 – If you help the poor and hungry, you help the Lord.
Matthew 26:11 – The poor will always be with you.
Luke 3:10-11 – Share with those in need.
Luke 6:38 – Give and it will be given to you.
Luke 11:41 – Be generous to the poor.
Luke 12:33-34 – Give to the poor, your real treasure is in heaven.
Luke 21:1-4 – The one who gives sacrificially, even if the gift is small, gives more.
Acts 9:36 – Dorcas, who gave to the poor, was revived and blessed.
Acts 10:24-48 – Cornelius was heard by God for his prayers and gifts to the poor, and was blessed.
Acts 20:35 – It is more blessed to give than to receive, and we are to help the weak.
Romans 12:6-8 – Among the spiritual gifts is the gift of giving.
Romans 15:26 – People were pleased to make a contribution to the poor.
2 Corinthians 9:6 – As you sow, so shall you reap.
2 Corinthians 9:11 – You will be enriched so you can be generous for God’s glory.
Galatians 2:10 – Paul was eager to help the poor.
Philippians 4:19 – God will meet all of your needs.
1 Timothy 5:8 – it is evil not to provide for the needs of your family.
1 Timothy 5:16 – The church and its people should help widows in need.
1 Timothy 6:17-19 – The rich should not be arrogant or trust in their wealth. They should be generous and share.
2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 – If you are unwilling to work you should not eat.
Hebrews 13:3 – Remember those in prison and the mistreated.
Hebrews 13:16 – Do good and share for this pleases God.
James 1:27 – Pure and faultless religion is helping widows and orphans.
James 2:2-9 – Show no favoritism against the poor, they are rich in faith.
James 2:15-16 – Act to help the poor, words alone mean nothing.
1 John 3:17-18 – If you have the ability to help but don’t, you lack God’s love. Action is necessary.
An Overview of God’s Heart on the Poor and Needy.
The calling of these verses can be summed up in only a two words – “do something.” A better summary might be “Do as much as you possibly can.”
The above verses are not nearly all of the passages dealing with God’s heart about generosity and the poor, but these should be easily enough verses to convey the very clear message; God loves the poor, needy, helpless and oppressed and we are to follow God’s heart – with action.
Doing nothing, or relying upon others to do your duty, is not an option in the eyes of God.
Our Heart and Motive.
So, we must act. But as we do so, it must be with a pure heart.
1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.
3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
We have all been given one or more spiritual gifts. 1 Peter 4:10-11. But God calls upon believers to act out both in the area of their spiritual gift or gifts, but in other areas as well. For example, you may not have the spiritual gift of evangelism (1 Corinthians 4:11), but the lack of that gift does not relieve you of your duty to help fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Likewise, you may not have the spiritual gift of giving (Romans 12:8), but that does not mean you can ignore either giving to God or helping the poor (Luke 11:41).
Every man, woman and child has something to give, some way to serve or help. Even the poorest and most physically disabled can encourage through word if not deed. Most have far more than the ability of a disabled person. Some of us have wealth, some of us have talent(s) and skill(s), some of us have influence, some of us can serve with physical help, all of us have at least some time. What we have is a part of the wealth God has given us, even if it is as small as the wealth of the widow’s offering (Luke 21:1-4). Of what we have, we have a God-given responsibility to do something. Doing nothing is not an option.
And with the investment you put in, you are “purchasing” an opportunity to share the reason for your offering. It is an offering to those in need and of praise to God, and it is an opportunity to share the love of God, 1 Peter 4:10-11.
But, “I’m not wealthy, in fact, I am broke!” If not money, give your service, your talents, your skills, your expertise and your time. God has more opportunities for you to serve than you could ever imagine. If nothing else is possible, serve Him by the way you work and your attitude and enthusiasm at work (Colossians 3:23-24). Catch that part right at the end of Colossians 3:24, “it is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Amen!
About the Author
John Campbell has retired from a 40-year legal practice as a trial attorney in Tampa. He has served in multiple volunteer roles at Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Florida, where he met Jesus. He began serving as the Executive Director of the Idlewild Foundation in 2016. He has been married to the love of his life, Mona Puckett Campbell, since 1972.