Serving The Needy
May 2, 2019
Jesus gave the disciples a lot of information and sound teaching at the Last Supper. At that time, He taught them how to continuing follow Him in His absence. Jesus taught the disciples how to remain His disciples after His death, resurrection, and ascension. He emphasized how it important it was that they continue walking according to His example, empowered by the Spirit, in “love.” In fact, Jesus said that the world would know that they were His disciples by their “love” for one another. In other words, one of the chief ways that we testify of our relationship to Christ is by how we treat one another. The Apostle Paul later taught the same principle through the Book of Roman. In fact, there, the Bible explains that our “love” for one another is the means by which we show our gratitude to God for the mercy and grace He’s given us in salvation. In other words, we can’t thank God unless we love in the manner that Jesus did, by His Spirit.
Another critical point to consider is the Biblical definition of love. How did Jesus “love” so that we can follow His example? The Bible contextually defines love as follows: The revelation of Jesus as the Son of God and Messiah for the purpose of salvation. God the Father “loved” the world that He gave His only begotten Son to allow eternal life to those who believe. Jesus came and died to Himself, while we were still sinners, so that our spiritual needs could be addressed according to the declared promises of the Father. Additionally, Jesus made it a point to show “love” to everyone. Since God doesn’t play favorites, Jesus as God in flesh didn’t show partiality either. This means that His treatment to the poor, the fatherless, and the widows was the same as the rich, influential, and able. Jesus offered forgiveness, mercy, grace, and sought to improve the spiritual integrity of all people equally. He died for the sins of all people – not just believers who get the benefits of His death. This is the standard that Jesus set.
Love for others is obviously an important subject to God and is thoroughly addressed in the scriptures. The Lord even proclaims that He IS love! Therefore, our treatment towards others is VERY important to the Lord. He pays attention to these things. He provides His Word, His Spirit, and the perfect example through Jesus to show us what true “love” should look like. If we desire to please God, we treat others like Jesus treated us. We must die to ourselves and our personal ambitions in order to build up the spiritual integrity of others, whether they receive it or not. God will judge both non-believers AND believers in this regard. For the non-believer, their mistreatment of others will be part of the accusation God levies against them unto condemnation. For the believer, mistreatment of others will be the reason that certain gifts and rewards are restricted from us in the kingdom. The testimony of Job shows that this is such a profound and elementary truth that Job clearly understood these principles way back when he lived. Job understood these matters so clearly that his entire life was governed by the fear he had of offending God in this matter.
The testimony of Job 31:13-23 shows that Job continued to defend himself, showing how his life was evidence of genuine faith, not hypocrisy. One of the areas of Job’s life that spoke volumes about the genuineness of his faith was his treatment of others – especially those who were poor, lowly, and needy. Job began his explanation by stating his understanding of God’s judgments. He knew that God rises up for the lowly. God stands up and defends those who are in need and are put down by others. God defends the poor, the widows, and the fatherless. This doesn’t mean that every poor, widow, or fatherless person will automatically inherit the kingdom because of their misfortune. Rather, the concept teaches that God upholds those who are lowly and humble. God defends those who are despised and rejected in this world for His namesake; undertaking and enduring the difficulties of this life by faith, for the sake of living for His eternal will and purposes. God rises up for those who deny the affections of this life, accept the difficulties of certain types of poverty, in hope and trust that God’s eternal promises are greater in value. The common mention of the poor, widow, and fatherless often is used to contrast those who are proud, self-righteous, and those who live to constantly indulge self through personal ambitions, even at the expense of others. God resists the proud, but give grace to the humble.
Knowing this, Job committed his life to ensure that he treated the poor, the widow, and the fatherless like God. He didn’t let the outward appearance or circumstances influence how he treated people. Job defended his faith by saying that he never “despised” the cause of his servants, no matter who they were. He didn’t treat them as second-class citizens, casting them away like cheap unwanted things. He didn’t reject his servants as if they were lesser than him. He didn’t esteem himself greater than his servants, whether they were male or female. Knowing that God would uphold those who are mistreated by these types of prejudices and injustices, Job ensured he was not walking down the road of God’s future judgment. He treated his servants with integrity, honor, and respect because he knew the judgments of God and the manner in which they would come. Job feared God’s judgments and embraced the holiness of God’s righteousness to govern his life. Job knew that if he didn’t, he would have no defense when facing God in judgment.
The reason that Job treated people with the same integrity and honor was because he realized the truth about God’s work. We were all formed from the same lump of dirt! God created Job in the womb just like He created Job’s servants in the womb. God made all people the same way, which means that all people are the purposeful effects of God’s own hands! Should the work of God’s hands be despised? Should the work of God’s hands be rejected? Should the work of God’s hands be judged and evaluated as one work being lesser or greater than another? Since God is the Creator of all people, our treatment of one another is reflective of our opinion of God. Do we think so highly of ourselves that we can examine the creative work that God did in someone’s life and despise it? Do we know God’s purposes so well that we can measure the worth of a person and treat the accordingly, assuming God made us for a superior purpose? Job recognized that God is not a respecter of persons, evidenced by the fact that He made us all the same way. Job conceded that God’s wisdom is greater and His ways past finding out. He didn’t know what God’s purpose was for all people, so treated each person as if God had great purpose for each.
Fearing God’s providence, sovereignty, and creative purposes, Job made sure that his temperament towards others was helpful to them so as to be helpful to God. He helped the poor by giving from his own increase to meet their needs. If the poor had a desire, Job gave of the increase God provided to lend aid. Job didn’t cause the eyes of the widow to fail. In other words, he made sure to help the physical needs of those around him. He didn’t stand by and watch people suffer idly without concern. Job didn’t stand around and criticize needs without trying to address them. Job didn’t just sit at a distance speaking about the problems of others. Job did what he could to ensure that those around him had their basic needs met, and gave of himself to do so. Job explained that he didn’t just sit back and keep his morsels to himself. Job was wealthy and prosperous, but didn’t use that wealth to separate himself from the poor, needy, and lowly. Job was rich, but didn’t use his riches to indulge himself. Job recognized that his increase was from God and was supposed to be used for God’s purposes. Since the poor, lowly, and needy were also the creation of God, Job did all that he could to ensure they lived honorably like God’s creation. Job didn’t restrict his prosperity or wisdom from anyone in need.
Though Job’s initial motivation to help those in need might have been fear, over time, Job learned to take joy in the privilege. Job explained that he dedicated his life to sharing his prosperity with those in need because it blessed him. God was his witness that when he served the needs of others, he was truly gratified, satisfied, and intimately connected to the Lord as an extension of God’s own hand and instrument of righteousness. Job didn’t live his life this way out of need or to impress others. Job knew that this was God’s will, and it blessed him to live in the ways of God’s own righteousness. Job was blessed to be an instrument in God’s hand to do good to those that God wanted to lavish with mercy and grace. Job found more blessing in the giving of himself and his resources than the hording of it. Therefore, he committed himself to this lifestyle, validating his point that he was not a hypocrite like his friends accused.
Job was so confident about the fruit of his faith and the God-given motives he had to serve, that again, he invited worse judgment into his life if it could be proved that he was lying. Job knew he wasn’t a hypocrite. Job was sure of his affection for the Lord. Job was confident that his works were according to the patterns of God’s own righteousness because he was sure that God Himself motivated him. Job’s works were not done according to his own standards of righteousness, but according to the revelation that God provided, sparked by fear of God’s own holiness, righteousness, and justice. Job received God’s revelation by His Word, considered it supremely valuable, and feared offending God by denying His revelation. Thus, Job’s service unto others was like a prophetic picture of Jesus as the Messiah. Job took joy in dying to himself in order to share the increase and abundance that the Father provided, with the aim to serve the spiritual needs of others. It is true that Job loved others, but only according to the standard that God set, having loved Job first.