We have been on the topic of giving, so we naturally turn to Jesus’ call to meet the physical needs of other people. Earlier, we studied that Jesus said we are to be givers (Jesus Said Be Giving // Part I , and Jesus Said Be Giving // Part II ). We explored the motives behind giving, and how Jesus said we are to give mercy and forgiveness abundantly to each other. Jesus also said we are to give to the poor and the needy to meet their physical needs. We look at that next.
When You Give to the Poor, You Give to Jesus
In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus tells a story about the Son of Man sitting on His throne and judging all people. Jesus said that the unrighteous will be so because they did not give Jesus food and drink when He was hungry and thirsty, did not extend Him hospitality when He was a stranger, did not give Him clothes when He was naked, and did not visit Him when He was sick or in prison. The unrighteous ask Jesus when they saw Him like this and did not help Him, and in verse 45 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth*, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me”. (*Note: “I tell you the truth” is my personal favorite phrase used by Jesus. Incredibly, Jesus said it 75 times in the four gospels! Click here to be taken to the blog post that contains the complete list.)
This is one of the clearest directives Jesus gave us. When He spoke in parables, sometime the meaning of His story was less direct. In this story, it crystal clear: When we take care of each other’s physical needs, is it like we are taking care of Jesus. When we neglect one another’s physical needs, it is like we are neglecting Jesus. No one who claims to follow Jesus can neglect helping the poor and needy. It was obviously important to Jesus, so it must be important to his disciples. However, in studying this topic, a new secret is revealed to me.
Give in Secret
In Matthew 6:1-4, Jesus said there are special blessings for those who give to needy people in private, for “Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” I find this a fascinating thought! That God will take note of when I give to the poor and needy, and will reward me for doing so. The caveat? I have to do so anonymously, privately, in secret. If I tell others about what I did, or allow them to find out, then other people will think highly of me, and that is my reward. On the other hand, when I give as Jesus said to give, my reward comes later, and it comes from God. Which reward is more valuable: The praise of men? Or the favor of God?
Share a Secret With God
What is most fascinating to me is this: When I give to the poor and needy as Jesus said to, it is like God and I have a little secret that no one else knows about. How much more personal can it be in a relationship than to share a secret that only the two of you know about?!?
As an example, think about a married couple expecting their first baby, and how they will often keep the news between just the two of them for several weeks. It is a special time when they have a secret that no one else knows about. It draws them closer together. Am I being offered a similar kind of intimacy in my relationship with God? To share a secret with the great I AM, the Creator of the universe? That is exactly what Jesus said! I will claim this promise and add a whole new dimension to my relationship with God!
Call to Action
As I think about a local organization that helps the poor and needy, and giving to them this week, I realize it is not as simple as it sounds on the surface. How do I give in secret? If I give money by a check or online, those at the organization know it was from me. If I give food or other assistance directly to someone I know, like a neighbor, then they know it was from me and thank me. Giving in secret will require some creative thinking on my part, and yours.
I challenge you to share a secret with God this week! Find someone with a need and meet that need in a way that keeps your identity private. I pledge to step out in faith and do this. I want to claim the promise of what Jesus said. In faith, in secret, I will meet a need. I will treasure having this secret with my Lord.