Don’t forget the poor


The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor,
The wicked does not understand such concern. – Proverbs 29:7.

I live in Lagos, a bustling metropolis in Nigeria. Lagos really is a special place for many reasons. It is a city where the great divide between the rich and the poor is so clear for all to see. It is a city where an elite few live in homes more expensive than prime areas in the US whilst a vast majority struggle to get their hands on a couple of dollars a day.

One incident stands out in my mind. A few months back, when I had just relocated back home after 12 years in the UK, I met up with an old friend for lunch. Being a fresh returner, I naturally asked my friend to pick a spot where we would meet up. He chose an exquisite hotel where we could have our meal overlooking a serene lagoon. As we caught up and enjoyed our meal, we noticed an entourage making their way towards the hotel. They were arriving in luxurious speed boats and yachts. In the very same lagoon were elderly fishermen struggling to catch a few fish to probably feed their family with. The yachts and speed boats nearly capsized one fisherman’s canoe as they made their way to the hotel where I was having lunch with a friend. The elderly man was left drenched in foul lagoon water and without an apology too. The entourage arrived at the hotel and it turned out to be one of Nigeria’s youngest emerging dollar billionaires. He was surrounded by his friends and security. His arrival disturbed the formerly peaceful scene we were all enjoying. Suddenly everyone’s eyes returned to the lagoon as we heard the elderly fisherman shouting at the top of his voice and paddling furiously towards the hotel. The closer he got, the more I could make out his words. He was asking all of us if we had any compassion in us. He was asking if the young billionaire had any atom of respect or consideration for having almost drowned him in the lagoon earlier. He was asking if we thought he was a human being. He kept asking these hard-hitting questions at the top of his voice but to my amazement, no one cared enough to even look his way. The young billionaire simply made his way into the hotel, leaving his security detail to usher the elderly man away. The hotel management wouldn’t have him anywhere near the premises either. The man was left with no choice but to paddle away in anger. Life simply went on. He had no money. He had no voice. That is the sad reality of the city I live in.

On a more personal note, I struggled with what to do about the countless number of beggars on the streets of Lagos. You can hardly find yourself stuck in traffic without having a beggar come to your window and ask for monetary help. They are usually suffering from one physical ailment or the other and are left with few options. There is no functioning welfare system in Nigeria so most of these people really are on their own. At first I used to give every single beggar that approached my window. With time, I noticed that most people didn’t give these beggars anything and they had a lot of logical reasons behind their stance. Some said the money was used to commit evil acts. Others said it encouraged evil man to deliberately injure people and use them to generate income through begging. I too started to rationalise the issue and before long, my heart was hardened and I stopped giving completely. My spirit was never comfortable with this decision of mine so I turned to God for answers. What He showed me startled me! He whispered Proverbs 28:27 into my heart. It says, ‘ Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to poverty will be cursed’. The words cannot be paraphrased in any other way as to avoid the central message here. I was staring this truth in the face and the fact was that I had closed my eyes to the suffering around me and opened myself up to be cursed. I’m not sure which part got me more. The fact I had chosen to ignore the suffering around me or the curse it exposes me to.

Christ gave me new life that I may die and have Him live through me. I doubt that Jesus would have ever walked past beggars and not care to do anything about their plight. He was always moved by compassion and studying His life led me to repent and go back to giving. The difference this time around is that I try to give as the Spirit of God instructs me. He knows better than I what each beggar needs at each point in time so I just trust in His wisdom and lean not on my limited understanding.

There are countless benefits to helping the poor. The scriptures are full of these benefits if we will take some time out to search them out. One of the most obvious is that loving and caring for the poor brings them face to face with Christ and opens up their otherwise closed hearts to receiving the gospel. You can never lose out in giving to the poor. There may be many people advising contrary to this based on worldly wisdom but this is what Solomon tells us in Proverbs 19:17, If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord and he will repay you! I can’t think of a better Person to lend to than God Himself. He will surely pay back and with interest too.

Let us always remember that we are stewards of the resources He has given us. Those resources belong to our Master and we must yield ownership to Him. We are blessed to be a blessing to others and common sense will tell us that the poor should be on our priority list of those that God would have us blessed with our blessings. We must keep our attitude towards the poor in check. This is not just staying away from oppressing or despising them but also not being indifferent to their sufferings.

As though to show us how remembering the poor is central to the gospel, Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, explains in Galatians 2:10, how he and his coworkers resolved a dispute with Peter, James and John regarding how the gospel was to be presented to the Gentiles. The one thing both groups were unanimous about was their approach to the poor and that says a lot about how God feels on this issue.

They only [made one stipulation], that we were to remember the poor, which very thing I was also eager to do. – Galatians 2:10.

 

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About Watchman

...Just another young man walking out his faith by God's grace day by day. I love writing, I love people and I love Jesus. That's me!
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15 Responses to Don’t forget the poor

  1. Nnamdi says:

    Nice to have you back Watchman, you were missed.

    Enjoyed your message today. As you said, its very simple, we are Blessed to be a Blessing to others. God expects us to be a blessing to others through our financial resources, talents, time, wisdom, word…..and everything else He blesses us with. This does not mean we should not look after ourselves, rather its an attitude God is looking for from us. An attitude that is other-focused rather than me-focused.I believe with all my heart that when we begin to develop a heart and attitude for others, and remove the focus from ourselves, God takes our joy, peace and fulfilment to a higher level.

    God bless

    • Watchman says:

      Hey bro! It’s nice to know I was missed. Thanks for your kindness. It’s really good to be back. This issue has been bugging me lately because as you know, it really is in your face here in Nigeria. Nothing gives more satisfaction than making a difference in someone else’s life. I believe God wired us that way but somehow we chose to ignore His design. The world would be a much better place if we didn’t ignore the scriptures on this issue

  2. toyin13 says:

    Thanks Watchman . Yeah, your absence was felt. Though anonymous did a great job too.

    I’m particularly convicted because I’m also one who made ‘sensible’ excuses that justified why I need not always give.

    The problem with that is that excuses can limit our maturity. They are easy to make and they help us feel comfortably justified as reformed sinners. They often tend to focus on the ‘why not’, when our reasons are often in the ‘why’. So we miss a lot and end up less effective because of a limited perspective.

    May we all turn away from excuses and into the fullness of life in CHRIST in JESUS Name.

    • Watchman says:

      Thanks bro. I agree with you on anonymous doing a great job. I’m also convicted about my attitude towards the poor. There are loads of sensible excuses to be made but the truth of scripture remains clear for us to see. I like how you linked excuses with our maturity. God wants us to go all the way with Him but we tend to stand in the way of His work with all our logical reasonings that are limited at best. Thanks for sharing Toyin

  3. tolu says:

    Welcome to Naija. How has it been?

    When the wealthiest man in the universe entered our planet, He was not born in the imperial courts of Rome but in a very lowly manger. His birth was not announced to kings but to shepherds. It was a statement to us, full of truths one of which I believe is that God cares especially for and identifies with the lowly. He is called Father of the fatherless, who raises the poor from the dung hill and the needy from the ash heap.

    From God’s view point, true wealth is spiritual and Jesus showed that. True wealth is in being a channel for God’s blessings to flow through. We were not meant to store anything here but in the invisible realm where we can access it at anytime to meet our own needs and that of others. Jesus did not need to have a billion dollars in his bank account, not because it was bad but because He used an incorruptible account from whence came the loaves and fishes, an account accessible 24/7, if only we know how. The same account from where the silver, the gold and all resources tat become wealth originated from.

    We impoverish ourselves the moment we shut our bowels of compassion, because we shut out the true supply, which is only meant to flow and never meant to be stagnant,

    • Watchman says:

      Brother Tolu! Your comment is just full of quotables. I don’t know where to start but I’ll try!! “When the wealthiest man in the universe entered our planet, He was not born in the imperial courts of Rome but in a very lowly manger. His birth was not announced to kings but to shepherds. It was a statement to us, full of truths one of which I believe is that God cares especially for and identifies with the lowly”. – This is just deep sir. God arrived on the scene having stripped Himself of His riches and glory. His point of arrival on this earth just speaks volumes. If He identified with the lowly to the extent that He was born amongst them, we must get a better understanding of what it truly means to be identified with the poor and needy.

      “From God’s view point, true wealth is spiritual and Jesus showed that. True wealth is in being a channel for God’s blessings to flow through” – I liken this to the difference between the River Jordan and the Dead Sea. One was a channel and the other a reservoir. The channel was brimming with life and activity. As it gave, it was constantly replenished by its source. The Dead sea on the other hand was as dead as its name suggests. There was no life in it because it acted as a reservoir, holding on to whatever it received from the source and giving nothing back in return. May we all be reservoirs for His kingdom.

      “Jesus did not need to have a billion dollars in his bank account, not because it was bad but because He used an incorruptible account from whence came the loaves and fishes, an account accessible 24/7, if only we know how”. – We must always remember that wealth is not just about money. There is wealth that money cannot buy and we all have the potential to access such wealth just as Jesus did time and again.

      Thank you so much for this illuminating comment bro. Consider writing a book on this!

    • Watchman says:

      Sorry Tolu, I forgot to mention how Naija has been for me thus far. It’s been an interesting experience for me. I think one of the first things I realised was that we have a religious spirit in our country. There are so many churches and yet the national transformation is not forthcoming. The corruption is so endemic in the country that it becomes difficult to conduct daily business without compromising on Christian values. It certainly has challenged me to grow further as a Christian because the nature of warfare here is different. On a lighter note, its good to be home. No more winter coats and jackets! lol. Food is great and having family around is refreshing. So all in all, I’m enjoying it thus far. Thanks for asking bro

  4. Anye says:

    I am currently reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan and your post is a condensed version of a core message of the book….Great Post as always!

    • Watchman says:

      Thanks Anye. It’s funny you mentioned Crazy Love. A friend of mine read an excerpt from it at his house fellowship on Sunday. I’ve also got a copy in my library but haven’t come round to reading it yet. Perhaps God is drawing my attention to it. Thanks Anye

  5. Freedomborn says:

    Reblogged this on Freedomborn…set free and commented:
    We would like to introduce to you our dear friend Watchman, we have been very blessed by his integrity and humility, he is always willing to listen to others even if at the time he is not in agreement with them but the wonderful thing is he seeks the Lord and searches the Scriptures that are offered to confirm error even if it’s his own…….

    Watchman is very worthy of respect in his Love for the Body of Christ and also his Love and concern for all Mankind, this Love is a reflection of the heart of Jesus Christ, which we see clearly in the message he shared today……

    Thank you Watchman for your Love and acceptance of Ron and myself as your Brother and Sister in the Family of God and for always showing us respect and courtesy and of course for laughing at my zany since of humour….good thing the Aliens didn’t adduct me or I couldn’t have done this Reblog :-D

    • Watchman says:

      Wow! I’m very touched that you and Ron would do this. I don’t know what to say Anne. No one has spoken such kind words to me in a while and I truly am touched by the Christ in you. Thank you thank you thank you! I really look up to you both as elders in the Body of Christ. Your sense of humour and passion for the truth are simply refreshing. I am really glad to have met you both on blogosphere. You will always be in my prayers. God bless

  6. Freedomborn says:

    Hi Watchman, what a wonderful, powerful message I hope you didn’t mind me Reblogging it and Spotlighting you but it was so in tune with what I was going to Post today that my heart was convicted to do so.

    Sadly Watchman as we look at Jesus’ words below we see that those who reject the needs of the poor will be separated for eternity from God… but then does that mean we have to do works to be saved, No but because we are saved we will want to, our hearts will cry out to minister to those in need, as you shared this is the heart of Jesus Christ and because we walk in Him we will have the same heart.

    With being on a pension there is not a lot of money but there is always enough, passing a display when shopping organised by a Charity collecting for people with needs, I offered them $5.00 of my shopping money but they rejected this and said it was not enough, of course we give in other ways but this was just a one off and I wanted to help, I was hurt and felt my gift was considered rubbish but I do know God didn’t think so, I gave it elsewhere and it was thankfully accepted, sadly the Organization was so big it forgot what it’s purpose was really for, they were offering fancy gifts for the more you gave.

    Matthew 25: 41 – 46 Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer Him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or a thirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall He answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, In as much as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

    Christian Love and many blessings from us both – Anne.

    • Watchman says:

      Thanks so much for your comment Anne. I can’t tell you how much it has truly blessed and enriched me. It’s sad that a charity organisation would disdain a donation but I’m glad you know that God didn’t. The scripture you shared in Matthew 25 is just so vivid and straightforward. What we do with our time here on earth will echo in eternity. Our attitude to the poor is very important to God. Thanks so much Anne

  7. Ron says:

    Yes I agree with Anne Watchman, your story really highlights Prov 28 v27 thank you for your integrity and compassion, it`s an example for others.

    blessing
    Ron

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