November 15, 2010
Lending to God
"If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord— and he will repay you!"
Proverbs 19:17 (NIV)
I sat in the coffee shop last week, slumped behind my laptop for cover, trying to act casual while blotting tears from my eyes with a brown paper napkin. I hadn't expected to be so touched by the brown eyes staring back at me through that screen.
I'd forgotten that God moves in the heart that focuses on the poor.
I was looking at children in poverty at the Compassion International website - trying to decide which one to sponsor. As I read their profiles, I felt my heart expanding two sizes. I'd experienced this before.
A few months earlier I learned that Mauricio, my sponsored child for the last few years, had moved with his family to another part of the country, exiting the Compassion program. I'd gone to Ecuador and met Mauricio, his parents and his grandfather. I'd written to him and prayed for him. He walks around in my memories, enlarging my heart. I hope he never forgets Jesus loves him so much that he used a woman from another hemisphere to prove it.
I planned to choose another child to sponsor right away, but then, I guess life happened. That task slid to the end of my to-do list before being forgotten. That is, until I sat down with my latte and remembered Mauricio.
I figured I'd search the Compassion website for a new "Mauricio," set up an auto-pay account, and get that to-do done before I forgot again.
I don't know why I thought that was something I'd do rather matter-of-factly in a coffee shop, like addressing envelopes or making a grocery list. I don't know how the tears welling in my eyes caught me off guard. I guess I'd forgotten doing the will of God regarding the poor is never just a task because God moves in us when we reach out.
Reading this story you might get the impression that I have a generous, giving heart. You'd be wrong. I'm rather stingy when it comes to money. But I've let God interrupt my stingy nature enough times and teach me that it's more blessed to give than receive. In the process, I learned the truth of today's key verse - that giving to the poor is virtually the same as depositing that money in a heavenly interest-earning account. God not only moves in the heart of, but rewards those who care for the poor.
Randy Alcorn writes in Money, Possessions, and Eternity: "God keeps an account open for us in heaven, and every gift given for His glory is a deposit in that account. Not only God, not only others, but we are the eternal beneficiaries of our giving." I wasn't just sitting in a coffee shop last week looking at a website; I was in line at the "Alpha & Omega Savings and Loan."
That's a truth I want to remember and teach my kids. This morning I showed my 9 year-old son the profiles of the children our family is praying over and asked if he had any thoughts about which one to sponsor. He sniffled a few times while sitting there; I wondered if he was catching cold. Then I caught him wiping at his eyes.
"Are you crying over those children, Caleb?" I tentatively asked.
"Yeah, a little," he admitted. I think his heart grew too.
God moves when we focus on the poor. When we reach out to help, He moves through us into their lives and for us into ours. He acts on our behalf when we act on theirs.
May we lend to God lots this season, giving Him plenty of room to move in, through and for us.
Dear Lord, it seems so strange to think that I can lend to You. But your Word says that when I help the poor, I am blessing both them and You. And you promise to repay that favor. Lord, soften my heart towards the poor. Help me be generous. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
If this devotion touched your heart, you'll want to read the chapter "Have Eyes Bigger than Your Stomach" in Rachel's new book It's No Secret: Revealing Divine Truths Every Woman Should Know.
Visit Rachel's blog today for a chance to win a free copy of her new book!
Consider sponsoring a child at Compassion International
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Honestly, it never feels like a good time to begin parting with $38 a month for the next several years to sponsor a child you've never met. The realization that the holidays and both of my children's birthdays are right around the corner ran through my mind in that coffee shop. Maybe I should wait until the new year, I thought.
But as German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, "Don't say that you want to give, but go ahead and give! You'll never catch up with a mere hope."
Do I help the poor?
Am I willing to "lend to God" in this matter, trusting that He repays?
Psalm 41:1-2, "Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor! The Lord rescues them when they are in trouble. The Lord protects them and keeps them alive. He gives them prosperity in the land and rescues them from their enemies." (NLT)
Proverbs 31:20, "She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy." (NIV)
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