Reading: Psalm 146:6-10
He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
he remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets prisoners free,
the LORD gives sight to the blind,
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down,
the LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
The LORD reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the LORD (NIV). *
Are you looking for the LORD’s help? Let’s be honest now. Many of us are. Well here’s a startling truth. The self-sufficient and well-to-do need not apply. We can also add the smug, the proud, and the arrogant to that list.
I thought the LORD was willing to help all who came to Him. True, but here is the sad reality; the arrogant and self-sufficient don’t come to God. They have no need for Him. They are too wrapped up in their successes and their pride to come in humility before the LORD. The LORD is the unseen author of any genuine human achievement of lasting value.
Today’s reading from Psalm 146 gives us a glimpse at those who should get their application in for the LORD’s help. Here’s the list as found in this psalm: the oppressed, the hungry, prisoners, the blind, the bowed down, foreigners, the fatherless and widows. Help is promised to all of these. To put it simply, the LORD helps the needy.
I have often heard it said that the Lord helps those who help themselves. I have even had people insist this statement is found in the Bible. It is not. This nonbiblical proverb is often used to justify human greed. In other words, I’ll grab whatever I can without any thought for those who are less fortunate. Furthermore, I’ll frame it as God blessing my greed. Ouch!
The character of God is the exact opposite. He is attracted to the needy. He helps the needy rather than running from them. Jesus continually demonstrated this quality in his earthly ministry. He showed compassion to the oppressed, the hungry, the blind, the widow and the fatherless. He set captives free from prisons of sin and shame. Jesus calls his followers to do the same.
Response: LORD God, I confess that often I avoid the needy rather than seeking to help them. Give me a heart of compassion—a heart like your Son, Jesus. You are my great provider. Thank you. Amen.
Your Turn: How do you respond to someone in need? Do you always help? What might help look like?
* NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, COPYRIGHT ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 BY BIBLICA
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Alan Kearns said:
In recent times helping those who beg on our streets has become difficult; trying to differentiate between the organised groups of immigrants and the individuals on their own. I try to discern on a case by case basis as the Holy Spirit guides me and give them my time and prayers as well as some food.
I agree. The Lord needs to guide us in all things including our charity.
My knee-jerk reaction is to help but in today’s world, as Alan pointed out in his comment, we need to be careful that we are being good stewards of the resources God has given each of us.
Lord, give us discernment and wisdom.