If we are doing what is true to the Lord we cannot fail. His power and wisdom will never lead us astray if we only take the time to listen to His almighty word and follow His direction.
1. Are your acts of giving based on your intentions or lead by the Lord?
2. When you give, do you seek the approval of others or the approval of the Lord?
Challenge: Do you call upon the Lord for wisdom and guidance before giving assistance? What we think is best may not always be correct. Take the time to pray and seek His guidance with all that you give. Following His direction will never be wrong.
Honest and sincere assistance for those in need does not discriminate, nor does it have boundaries. Giving aid equally regardless of status, race, color, gender/gender association, sexual preference or otherwise is essential. We should never hide from those in need.
1. Have you ever passed by the opportunity to help someone because you chose to judge them based on false pretenses?
2. When was the last time you felt challenged to give assistance and did not?
Challenge: Step outside your comfort zone and reach out to someone you would normally pass by. Even better, give assistance to someone whom you may feel a great deal of negativity towards.
Going through the motions simply for the sake of doing so or because of guilt is fanfare. Are we casting good deeds unto others just for show or out of piety? Insincere acts of kindness are merely actions without a soul.
1. Analyze the reason behind the last time you choose to help someone?
2. Are you able to give assistance to some anonymously, simply walk away without recognition, and never seek credit for doing so?
Challenge: Think of five ways you can secretly assist someone in need. Pick one of those deeds from your list and make it a reality. Once you have completed this deed simply move on without telling anyone of your assistance to another.
Often when we think about helping the “poor” we focus on what we can do for them. It is natural to think of it as a one-sided exchange, but I don't believe that is what God has in mind. We are to be in relationship with our neighbors, family, friends, co-workers, everyone around us. Then, and only then, will we begin to discover what needs they truly have, not just what we see from the outside. That is when we realize it is a two-way street, a give and take that benefits us as well.
1. Think for a moment, who is that one person in your life you need to be in relationship with?
2. What is going to be your first step to begin?
Challenge: We all have busy schedules and time frames that we need to meet in our lives. Work, family obligations, church, all good things but they can take over all your time. We all need to allow time in our schedules for building relationships with others. Don't get so caught up in the next thing on your to do list that you miss opportunities that are right in front of you.
The most important thing we can give others who are struggling financially or in other ways is hope. This life can be very tough at times and without the hope we experience in Christ it can be very hopeless. On a practical level you may be helping someone get through the month financially, helping them find resources, or teaching them to budget, but you are bringing hope for the future as well.
1. In what ways can you bring hope to the hopeless around you today?
2. How are you keeping yourself hopeful and fed while helping others this week?
Challenge: You have the ability to bring others hope by sharing that God has a plan for their lives. When life gets hard it is easy to think you are alone and no one cares. God has a plan for each one of us and that knowledge is comforting; please share it today!
When considering how we are to help others that are less fortunate than ourselves it is important to remember we are all one in Christ. God has blessed some of us financially and some of us are blessed in other ways. One is not necessarily better that than the other, just different in how God sees best. When helping others financially or giving to others who are in need, it is crucial we do it with the spirit of helping others in Christ because we are all one.
1. How can you focus your mindset on helping others in Christ instead of just giving to the poor?
2. Who in your life needs your assistance right now, financially or spiritually?
Challenge: Look at your answers to the questions above, what practical steps are you being called to take today? Spend some time in prayer and see where God leads you, then hold on for great things!
In helping people you really need to examine their real needs and how you can best help them. In this passage we are challenged to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we were in need, would we really want a band aid to our problem or a long- term solution? Of course if someone has no food today we are called to feed them, but we need to reach beyond today and help them figure out how the future can be better. Before you act, ask yourself, “if I were in this situation how would I want to be helped?”
1. In what ways have you helped others in the past? How did you go about it?
2. What were the results of the help you gave?
Challenge: Consider your answers to the questions above, how did you do in helping? Maybe it went great and you did the right thing, maybe the help was misused and not effective. The important thing to remember is that you were willing to help, keep that willingness and move forward as opportunities present themselves.
This seems like a pretty basic concept to simply show others respect, but many times it is more complicated than that. This became evident to me about a year ago when I took on a new job. There are a variety of backgrounds and experiences that my team comes from. I am learning to dig deeper into figuring out what drives them and why they are the people they are that would be missed at first glance.
1. Can you think of someone in your life that you thought you knew until you dug deeper?
2. What kinds of things did you learn about them?
Challenge: When you think about the people you interact with every day, consider their past and how it shapes who they are today. We all have a variety of things that shape us and make us who we are. Take the time and effort to discover the story of someone you are in relationship with; it may explain why they do some of the things they do.
What Boaz did for Ruth, following Mosaic law, was to super-size her potential to gather food for herself and Naomi. Instead of simply giving her the barley outright, he made sure there was extra left over for her to glean behind the regular workers in his fields. Today, this “positive enabling” might be watching kids for a few hours when Mom gets called in to work or giving someone a ride.
1. What are some ways that you can come alongside someone to maximize his or her own potential to escape poverty?
2. How much time do you set aside for helping others in this way each week?
Challenge: Take time to get to know one person who might need your help. Learn about this person at a deep enough level to be able to offer personal support.
Money is our first thought when it comes to giving to the poor. But like the woman at the well, many whose lives are broken need “living water” – the Good News that will restore their spiritual relationship with God. Physical healing was also key for both Jesus and His disciples. Both of these gifts still have the power to lift people from poverty today.
1. When you tell others about Jesus, do you think about how powerful a difference it could make in their lives?
2. People with physical disabilities are among the poorest in the U.S. How can you contribute to their healing?
Challenge: Think about the contributions other than money you can offer those in need. Make one such donation this week.
This devotional is written every week by Hillcrest members.
Receive this devotional in your inbox every Monday - Friday.