Called to Care

April 18, 2024

The Bible consistently emphasizes the importance of caring for the poor and marginalized. Throughout both the Old and New Testaments, God’s concern for the vulnerable is evident, and believers are repeatedly called to do the same. One of the central themes throughout the scriptures is the call to love and serve others, especially those in need. There’s no question that Jesus’ command to love others as He loved us and love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:31) extends to all those in need, regardless of their geographical location.

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew prophets frequently spoke out against injustice and oppression, advocating for the rights of the poor and marginalized. Isaiah 58:10 declares, “If you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday”, illustrating God’s desire for His people to actively engage in addressing the needs of the less fortunate. Genesis 1:27 teaches that all people are made in the image of God and are therefore deserving of dignity and respect. While Proverbs 14:31 states, “Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” These passages underscore the spiritual dimension of caring for the poor and remind us that our actions toward the marginalized reflect our relationship with God.

In the New Testament, Jesus frequently emphasized the significance of compassion and charity. Specifically, Jesus’ teaching of the parable of the Good Samaritan highlights the need to not only care for others, but also illustrates that our neighbors extend beyond geographical or cultural boundaries. In fact, the call to love our neighbors is not limited by borders of any kind, but encompasses a global perspective, encouraging believers to extend their compassion and care to those in need around the world. 

Jesus declares in Matthew 25:35-36, “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, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Jesus himself often sets an example of compassion and service to the poor and marginalized. Throughout His ministry, He demonstrated a special concern for those in need, often reaching out to those who were overlooked or rejected by society. He often allowed His ministry work to be interrupted by those in need, always putting the care of people ahead of carrying out His plans. 

“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, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

Matthew 25:35-36

While there are certainly pressing needs within our own communities, as followers of Christ, we are called to embody His love and compassion for all people, recognizing that our interconnectedness as a global community necessitates a response to the needs of the poor abroad. Through our actions, we demonstrate God’s love and work towards the realization of His kingdom, where justice, mercy, and compassion reign supreme. 

Moreover, the Bible emphasizes the idea of stewardship, acknowledging that all resources ultimately belong to God. In Proverbs 19:17, it is written, “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done”, implying that caring for the poor abroad is an expression of our stewardship over the resources God has entrusted to us, and it aligns with the biblical principles of justice, mercy, and love for all humanity.

In his compelling book, “The Hole in Our Gospel”, Richard Stearns underscores the idea that our faith is not meant to be confined within the walls of our churches but should permeate every aspect of our lives, including how we steward our resources and engage with the world around us. Stearns contends that the Gospel demands a holistic response to human suffering and injustice, challenging us to extend our compassion beyond our immediate circles to encompass the needs of the global community.

Similarly, Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert highlight the complexities of poverty alleviation and emphasize the importance of empowering communities to address their own needs in their book “When Helping Hurts”. While well-intentioned efforts to help can sometimes perpetuate cycles of dependency or inadvertently cause harm, effective poverty alleviation requires an understanding of the root causes of poverty and a commitment to working alongside those in need with humility and respect in ways that are dignity-building.

In light of these principles, the disparity between the prosperity of the United States and the struggles faced by much of the world serves as a poignant reminder of our responsibility to be generous stewards of the blessings we have received. This difference in wealth and opportunity isn’t just a random occurrence, but rather a tangled mix of historical, political, and economic influences. In recognizing our own blessings and abundance, we are compelled to acknowledge the responsibility that accompanies such privilege. Our abundance is not meant to be hoarded for our own comfort and security but rather to be shared with those who are less fortunate. As Jesus taught, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48).

Our response to the incredible disparity in global prosperity should not be one of complacency or indifference but rather of active engagement and solidarity with those who are marginalized and oppressed. By leveraging our resources, influence, and talents to address the root causes of poverty and inequality, we can contribute to the establishment of a more just and equitable world where all individuals are given the opportunity to flourish and thrive. In doing so, we fulfill not only our moral obligation but also our calling as followers of Christ to love our neighbors as ourselves and to work towards the realization of God’s kingdom on earth.

Book Resources:

  • “The Hole in Our Gospel” by Richard Stearns
  • “When Helping Hurts” by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert

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Called to Care