Text: Deuteronomy 15:11, Proverbs 22:9, 1 Samuel 2:7-8, 1 Timothy 6:17-19, James 2:1-13, 1 John 3:17-20
We dragged a queen-sized mattress from the guest room, which could only mean one thing: showtime. Growing up, my brother and I crafted our best gymnastics routines under the forest green glow of our bonus room. Standing in line, we’d take turns tumbling and toppling to the latest Backstreet Boys hits, the mattress catching our falls. We would practice for hours, gaining confidence with our bounding and landing. Then we’d make a phone call to the neighbor kids, inviting them to our pre-dinnertime performance.
I should be the first to tell you that the show was never great. These were not Olympic backflips and handsprings; we were somersault-and-YMCA kind of kids. We’d run and flip and run and flip until the audience got bored and decided to show us they could actually do better. They could do headstands. The thing is, I’ve never been able to do a headstand. My legs are too long and my patience too thin. “Just try it!” the neighborhood kids would say. “You can do it!” they insisted.
When it comes to most things in life—and when we’re talking about how to serve those who are poor—Jesus asks us to do the same: Take the world’s promises and turn them upside down. That’s how you’ll see My promises.
In Scripture, we look upside down to see right-side up. Let’s attempt a headstand together:
“The Lord brings poverty and gives wealth;
He humbles and He exalts.
He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the garbage pile.
He seats them with noblemen
and gives them a throne of honor.”
- 1 Samuel 2:7-8
Maybe it’s the blood rushing to my head, but I’m seeing in a fresh light all the ways the Lord cares for the poor. He lifts them “from the dust” and “garbage pile.” He gives them “a throne of honor” with the noblemen. Do you see what I’m seeing? Not once do these verses mention money. True wealth has nothing to do with our bank accounts; it has to do with the riches of the Kingdom that are ours in Christ.
Does God use money to help the poor get on their feet or provide them a warm meal? Yes. Should we serve the poor among us by meeting their physical needs? Absolutely! Scripture tells us this is a nonnegotiable (1 John 3:17). The gospel calls for us to make room for the poor in our budgets and in our homes, and to welcome them into the family of God, just as God welcomes us.
Regardless of our material wealth or lack, we are all spiritually bankrupt without the lavish love and grace of God given to us in Jesus.
When we think loving the poor is too complicated—if we get bogged down in the logistics, wondering who and how and what when it comes to our time and resources—we can go to God’s Word for a reminder on how to see things gospel-side up. In his first letter to Timothy, Paul writes:
“Instruct them to do what is good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good reserve for the age to come, so that they may take hold of life that is real.”
- 1 Timothy 6:18-19
Generosity is more than a kind gesture; it is a lifeline that keeps us tethered to what is real, to what is eternal. When we joyfully give our resources to those in need, it reminds us that everything we have was itself a gift from the God who lifts us from our desperate need by His grace. May we be generous with our time, our homes, our money, as an outpouring of the room that has already been made for us in Christ. Amen.