If you and I want to be obedient to the Scriptures, we will use our time, energy, and resources to invest in people that cannot help themselves. All throughout the Scriptures there are groups of people that are limited in their capacity to do for themselves, and these people are close to the heart of God. As we come together as Church communities, let us not neglect those that are the most needy among us.
Here is a list of those in Scripture that are close to the heart of God, but are not able to offer you a great return on your investment:
Proverbs 19:17… Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed. (ESV)
Proverbs 14:21… Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner, but blessed is he who is generous to the poor. (ESV)
Proverbs 14:31… Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him. (ESV)
Isaiah 58:7… Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? (ESV)
Matthew 5:42…Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. (ESV)
Isaiah 58:10…If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. (ESV)
The Weak (those who do not have a voice to speak for themselves)
Acts 20:35…In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (ESV)
The Physically Disabled
Leviticus 19:14…You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the Lord. (ESV)
Deuteronomy 27:18…“‘Cursed be anyone who misleads a blind man on the road.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’ (ESV)
Mark 1:40-41… A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” 42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. (NIV)
Orphans and Widows
James 1:27…Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (ESV)
Our Family In Need
1 Timothy 5:8…But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (ESV)
Those Who Are In Prison
Hebrews 13:3…Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. (ESV)
Psalms 82:3…Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
Matthew 19:14…Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (NIV)
How well do the ministries of your church focus on these people groups?
This is not a church growth post. I am not suggesting that targeting these people will fill seats or fill the church coffers. What I am saying is, these people reflect the heartbeat of God. These people matter. Every church should have a strategy that includes reaching out to some of the groups on this list. It is an impossibility to call yourself a follower of Christ and neglect these groups of people.
If your church is not engaging in or supporting ministries to these people groups, would you consider challenging your church leaders to reevaluate their priorities? Start having discussions about the Scriptures cited above and how you might start doing things differently. This is a great opportunity to start discussing how your church can connect with people that are in the greatest need in our communities.