Summary: It is amazing how much the Bible has to say about the Poor.
PURE RELIGION: DOING GOD’S WORD
A. James 1:22 - “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”
1. Be careful how you hear. Jesus says:
‘Who hath ears to hear, let him hear’ (Matthew 13:9).
2. But it is not enough only to hear. The chief of the Jews were called together in Paul's house in Rome, and he expounded the Scriptures to them, And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not. Paul had to conclude:
3. We must hear God's word, believe God's word - and true religion is to act upon it:
B. James 1:27 - “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
As both Paul and James would agree, good deeds do not make us Christians: but Christians will do good deeds.
It is interesting that just two things are brought to our attention here as marks of true spirituality: our attitude to widows and orphans, and personal purity. Widows and orphans no doubt stand for all the poor - but in a patriarchal society, particularly, for those who are deprived of their means of support. And it is our attitude to such as these that is the measure of our Christianity!
2. We are not to afflict widows and orphans (Jeremiah 22:3).
If we do, we must suffer the consequences (Exodus 22:22-24).
3. We are to provide for widows and orphans. Thus we receive God's blessing (Deuteronomy 14:28-29).
And thus our prayers are not hindered (Deuteronomy 26:12-15).
6. Mordecai adopted his orphaned cousin (Esther 2:7).
8. Jerusalem's lack of care for the poor is compared to that of Sodom (Ezekiel 16:49)!
9. Care for orphans and widows is an essential part of our reasonable faith (Isaiah 1:16-20).
10. The gospel is preached to the spiritual needs of the poor (Matthew 11:5).
11. The church should minister to the physical needs of the poor (Galatians 2:9-10).
Jesus says: “For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good…” (Mark 14:7).
So we are encouraged: “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days” (Ecclesiastes 11:1).