What is God’s will? It’s a popular question. The first time I really wrested with it was at eighteen, when the acceptance letters started coming in the mail from colleges and I had to pick the school where I wanted to spend the next four years of my life. Right now I’m not making any major life decisions, but I still want to know God’s will.
To know God’s will, I need to get to know God. What makes Him happy should make me happy. What breaks His heart should also break my heart. When I read the book of Proverbs, I see what breaks God’s heart–His people neglecting the poor.
- “Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker.” Prov. 17:5
- “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.” Prov 19:17
- “Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.” Prov 21:13
- “Whoever gives to the poor will not want.” Prov 28:27
- “A righteous man knows the rights of the poor, a wicked man does not understand such knowledge.” Prov 29:7
And it’s not just in the book of Proverbs. Jesus also showed His love for the poor as He taught us to love them also, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in” (Matthew 25:35).
Now that we know what breaks God’s heart, what can we do about it? In middle class America where most of us live comfortably, it’s easy to turn our heads and pretend we don’t hear. But there are needs everywhere around us. Here’s where to start helping:
- Pray that God would open your eyes and your heart. When the Spirit works through us, we will see opportunities to serve and to love others.
- See the needs close to home. In today’s tough economy, there are so many needs. There may be family down the street who can’t pay their electric bill this summer or kids in your church who may need help buying new clothes as the weather gets cooler. As God shows you needs, He will give you opportunities to help.
- See the needs around the world. The poorest 5% in America are still richer than 68% of the world’s inhabitants. There are degrees of poor that I can’t even fathom. Because there are so many in need, there are literally thousands of ways to help. You can sponsor a child through an organization like Compassion International, give through your church or denomination, or find a cause close to your heart like Mercy House in Kenya that serves pregnant women. Be open to what God shows you that moves you to want to help.
- Serve with others to make an even bigger impact. Call the local elementary school for the name of a family in need and get your Sunday School class together to buy groceries and even Christmas gifts for them. Volunteer as a family at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. Together you can help even more!
God’s will is for us to conform to the image of His Son. As we grow in godliness, our capacity to love others will grow. Like Jesus, we will love even the unlovely. Allow God to open your eyes to the needs of the poor and bless them through God’s love through you.