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Good Works for the Poor

Updated on July 10, 2011

The Lord Set the Stage for Good Works

For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. . . Mark 14:39 (ESV)

The poor will be in our midst always. Jesus put it in real simple terms for us. He shared that we will always have the poor and that we can do good for them whenever we desire or see the need to do so because they are right in our midst. He offered some keen and sound insights into how the Christian must look at the presence of the Lord and doing the works of the Lord, especially for the poor.

In biblical context, He was sharing about the importance of understanding the presence of God in the incarnation of the Lord, the Word becoming flesh and coming to His own. In a social context, Jesus was addressing the the need to do good for the poor as a constant issue for those who believe. Jesus offers the believer assurance that the poor can receive help "whenever you want," but the urgency and importance of being in the company of the Lord far outweighs anything that any of us could do for the poor.

By sharing His views at the house of Simon the leper at Bethany, Jesus sets the stage for the believer's understanding of good works.  The believer can look at the words of Jesus and come to some understanding of what the church and each believer can do for the poor.

Getting to Good Works

And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.- Tits 3:14 (ESV)

The teaching in the pastoral epistle of Titus deals with overseeing the matters and ministry of the entire church. The pastor-shepherd and pastor-teacher positions are further discussed in 1 & 2 Timothy, offering some insights into the positions of elders and overseers. Much of what is presented in these epistles serves as the foundations for the qualifications of today's pastors, ministers and deacons. We see that the pastor as both shepherd and teacher must teach and train his sheep to serve by devoting themselves to good works, "help causes of urgent need," and not become "unfruitful" or unprofitable.

The epistle of James, the brother of the Lord, says something similar when he writes about faith and works. James is the type of epistle that will reveal a believer's level of maturity. At the time of one reading, it may feel like a bitter pill going down as you take in the words of James. At other times, it may come to you as a helpful reminder to hear from James and take heed to what he said.

14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.- James 2:14-17 (ESV)

Scriptures on Doing Good

 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?- Micah 6:8 (ESV)

16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
17 learn to do good;
seek justice,
correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow's cause
.- Isaiah 1:16-17 (ESV)

How should the Church Help?

Should the Christian church help the poor in the U.S. or abroad?

See results

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