By Nick Bibile
Previously we saw the church struggles with her enemies, religious enemies. Not to teach or speak in Jesus name, however the church is always victories over her enemies as they would obey God rather than men. As long as the church is here on earth, there will be problems. There was a daily distribution of food to those who were poor and needy. There were Jews who were natives and there were Jews who were outside from other nations, mostly from Asia minor, these Jews spoke Greek not the native language. The widows of the native Jews who spoke Hebrew in the church got favoritism over the Greek speaking widows. The word of God says they were neglected. Probably there was some discrimination on the basis of language and culture.
Apostles job was the ministry of the word, in the same way the pastor of the church should spend more time in preparation of the word with prayer to the church, others in the church should take care of the poor and the needy, pastor cannot do everything. Now see the wisdom of the apostles solving this problem. Apostles told to appoint seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. They did not appoint people how the world would appoint according to education, popularity and status. Qualification to serve in the ministry is a good reputation. Having a good character, a person who is honest and good conduct, where neighbors have a good respect. The second qualification is not just a regular person who attends church but a person who attends church and who is truly born again and full of the Holy Spirit. A person who has a godly character, who loves the Lord, a spirit filled man talks on spiritual things, godly things, use the Bible to encourage, a man of prayer and a person who walks with Jesus. The third qualification is wisdom. Wisdom to know what is right from wrong, wisdom to judge rightly.
So whom did they appoint? Did they appoint Aramaic speaking Hebrew native Jews to settle the problem of the Greek speaking widows who were neglected? No they appointed Greek speaking men. This is great wisdom of the apostles. Look at the names of the people whom they appointed they are all Greek names.
See verse 7, it says then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith. When they selected Greek speaking godly men, they not only took care of the physical need of the poor and the needy but also the spiritual, the church began to grow as these whom they appointed were spiritual and they were able to win souls, their witnessing matched their lifestyle, even the priests became believers as they saw this is not hypocrisy but true genuine religion.
Bible is full of scriptures in helping the poor and the needy as God cares for the poor.
When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.
Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the LORD delivers him in times of trouble. The LORD will protect him and preserve his life; he will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desire of his foes.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling
He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy.
He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.
If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.
A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.
He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter-- when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? ...and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.
Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least among you, you did not do for me.'
But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
1 John 3:17-18
If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
Remember the good Samaritan story, that was an urgent need and we all should not turn the other way when we see an urgent need. Today people’s hearts have become callous, cold due to sin. Parents put their kids in front of the TV, and the kids get all the filth from watching Hollywood movies and they grow up without any respect and manners. One day God is going to ask accountability from the parents and the kids who have heard the word of God also require to give accountability to God.
How about today helping the poor and the needy? In my experience as a missionary and a pastor there is a fine line. We need to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.
Some are poor because they are lazy. You don’t give lazy people money then they will expect all the time from you, they will never look for work, giving lazy people money you make them more lazy.
Then there are others when they get money they drink and gamble, yes, I am talking of the poor.
Then there are the genuinely poor people, when you help them they would truly appreciate.
Today the care of this world and the deceitfulness of riches have choked many to become cold towards the poor. Even there are poor people when they become rich they will neglect the poor. Because they are greedy and selfish and think of their own needs, they are covetous as they will build their kingdom on earth and forget the poor. It is more blessed to give than to receive. When you visit the sick, the poor and the needy you come home and realize your hardships are nothing compared to what you saw. Many would sacrifice their time for the church without love for the poor and the needy.
Hosea 6: 6 For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
Remember Jesus said, “you shall love your neighbors as yourself’
Charles Spurgeon said, “I never knew a man refuse to help the poor who failed to give at least one admirable excuse” Yes everyone has an excuse for not helping the poor. Remember our Lord Jesus was unselfish, he gave his life and forgave his enemies, he came to save others. The followers of Christ are called Christians, meaning Christ like and we should follow his example.