Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
Select a thought to read by choosing a collection, the month, and then the day:
“These six things doth the Lord hate; yea, seven are an abomination to Him. A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked imaginations, feet that are swift to run to mischief, a false witness that speaks lies, and he who sows discord among brethren.”
David, speaking to his son in Proverbs 6:16
In Proverbs 6, David listed for his son’s benefit seven things that God especially hates. Thinking on those things recently, I pondered over this question: If God especially hates those seven things, then what are their opposites, for God must especially love them? So, I sat down with my son Elijah and we set about to determine what seven things are especially precious to God. This is the third of those seven precious things.
In this wicked world, there are those who murder innocent people. Whatever reasons murderers give for their cruelty are irrelevant; murder of innocent people is sin. God abhors those people and will judge them severely. But just as there are cruel murderers in the earth with hands that shed innocent blood, so are there also hands that help others who are in need, just as God does.
One day, while speaking to a group of proud men, Jesus made the comment that everyone should love his neighbor as himself. One expert in the scriptures who was there responded to this saying by trying to lure Jesus into a verbal sparring match. “And who is ‘my neighbor’?” the crafty man asked.
In reply, Jesus told a parable of a man who had been attacked, beaten, and left for dead by robbers as he was traveling along the Jericho Road. A priest of Israel passed the bloody, suffering fellow by, unwilling to touch him. Next, a Levite passed that way, and like the priest, crossed the road to avoid even contacting the poor man lying helpless in the dust. When a despised Samaritan passed that way, Jesus said, he stopped to aid the fallen traveler, and then took him to an inn and paid for his medical care.
After telling this parable, Jesus asked the slick professor of the Law, “Who was a neighbor to this man?”
“Why, the one who helped him,” came the reply.
“Go thou and do likewise,” said Jesus.
To help those who are in real need is the will of God for us. Paul indicated this when he said, “As we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, especially to those of the household of faith.” God dearly loves those who are quick to help (especially when they help one of His needy children), just as He deeply despises those who are quick to destroy (especially those who harm one of His needy children).
As I contemplated this particular lesson in the series on what God loves most, the Lord opened my understanding to a related truth that I rejoiced to see. That is, he showed me how God defines “a poor man”. God sees a poor man as a man who has a need – any need. From God’s perspective, then, we are all poor because we all need Him and His mercy just to survive this and any other day. And He is rich because He is able and willing to supply all the needs we have. On earth, however, again from God’s perspective, a rich man is one who can supply the need of another.
If a man has all the money in the world, and yet is stuck out on a highway with a flat tire, unable for some reason to fix it, that man is poor (at that moment, in that situation). And if an unemployed, impoverished man stops to help that stranded man, and if he has the tools and the knowledge necessary to fix the tire and get the motorist back on his way again, that man is rich (at that moment, in that situation). In that situation, the impoverished man was the head and the wealthy man was the tail. The impoverished man is the hero and the wealthy man is the beggar. God has made this life so that it is this way everywhere on earth.
Men look too much at bank accounts to determine who is rich and who is poor. Money is only one of a million different ways to be rich, although it is the one that fallen men most admire and talk about. That way of judging comes from a spirit of envy and covetousness – but that is a topic for another time; right now, I want you to consider who is really rich and who is really poor.
Poverty is need, no matter what form that need takes. And wealth is the ability to supply the needs of others, no matter what form those needs take. God dearly loves the man or woman, or young person, who has the ability to lift a burden and supply others’ needs – and then who actually does it. Merely being able to help others is not what God especially loves; it is actually helping others that God especially loves. Those who are able to supply the needs of others are rich, but what good is it if they do not use those riches to help others? Is God impressed with what we can do for others, even if we never do it? That’s like hoarding up a fortune in the bank, and watching people starve for lack of a few dollars!
Everybody is poor in some things and rich in some things. Everybody has needs in some respects, and everybody has the ability to supply the needs of others in some respects. God has given us all both poverty and riches of different kinds. If we see this, we will remain humble; we will help others when we can, and we will not be too proud to receive help from others when it is our turn to have a need.
Those generous souls who use their riches freely to relieve the burdens of others are special people, both to God and to those whose needs they meet. They are on the opposite end of the human spectrum from those who shed innocent blood, and it is a good place to be.