Sharing The Heart Of God For The Poor, The Hungry, And The Hurting
It is plain throughout the Bible that God doesn’t want us to ignore the poor, the defenseless, the hungry or the hurting.
Look at Acts 10, where we read the story of a Gentile named Cornelius, a devout man who feared God. Two additional things are written about him. He prayed continually and gave alms generously to the people. The inward heart of Cornelius, the devout, God-fearing part, was displayed outwardly in his generosity. God sent His great apostle Peter specifically to meet with this Gentile and share the Good News with him.
God is sad when He sees His people living selfishly, only concerned about “me and mine.” It especially hurts Him whenever Christians close their eyes to the pressing needs before them.
Remember what Jesus said, “And the king answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40, emphasis mine). This means that whatever we do for the least of these, whether good or bad, it is as though we have done it for Christ Himself.
Over and over in Scripture, we recognize God’s heart for those who have no voice, for the captives and for the oppressed. There is a divine passion for them, a heavenly desire for their well-being, because God prizes them highly and His heart breaks to see them suffer.
The Scripture is crystal-clear about God’s heart for children. The best place to look is at Jesus, because He is the exact representation of the Father’s nature (see Hebrews 1:3). Jesus Himself says, “He that seeth me seeth the Father also.” (John 14:9). Therefore, we can be sure the fullness of God’s heart for children was perfectly reflected in the life and words of His Son. So what can we learn from Him?
Throughout the Gospels, we see Jesus repeatedly speaking about how important children are to Him and to the Father. In Mark 10, we encounter Jesus surrounded by people, teaching them the truths of God. Some of the parents in the crowd started bringing their children to Him so He could bless them. The disciples rebuked these people and started practicing crowd control. They may have said something like, “The Master is teaching an important message. Please sit down and keep your children quiet.”
This passage states that when Jesus saw what was happening, He was displeased and told His disciples, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God. ” (Mark 10:14). He actually interrupted His teaching, put His hands on them and blessed them. In the midst of His busy ministry, Jesus stopped everything He was doing to show these children His love and interest.
In Mark 9:37, Jesus said, “Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.” What does His statement mean to us?
Imagine that you have worked all day and are finally sitting down to dinner with your family. Suddenly, you hear a knock on the door. You aren’t expecting anyone, so you look through the peephole thinking you will maybe see a salesman or someone who wants to mow your lawn. Instead, you see the King of the universe.
You would break down your front door to welcome Him in!
But what if you see a starving child, half-naked, with more holes than cloth in the rags he or she is wearing? Her hair is unkempt and filled with lice; her face is covered with dirt and sweat. Would you break down your door to welcome her in?
Jesus tells us that anyone who embraces little children, who loves them and who gives them dignity and value in His name is actually doing these same things for Jesus Himself (see Matthew 18:5). But there’s more to it than that. Jesus is so happy with anyone who cares for children His name, that He will come and be with them in a special way. He tells us further in Mark 9:37 that we receive not only the Son, but God the Father also. So there is a special blessing for those who share the heart of the Eternal for children.
Do Not Despise Them
In Matthew 18:10, Jesus said, “See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven..” Although when you read the verses surrounding this verse you will see that it is referring to new believers, “young” believers in Christ, the same principle can be applied to to children. According to the dictionary, the meaning of the word “despise” is “to regard as unworthy of one’s interest or concern.”
Jesus is warning us that when we hear about needy children, we need to be careful not to see their plight as unworthy of our attention. We can’t simply say, “Yes, I know it’s awful. Those terrible people hurting children should be stopped, and the little ones should be loved and cared for. But there’s nothing I can do about it.”
Do you think Jesus cares about children who live on the streets? Do you believe He sees the boys and girls laboring long hours in the fields and factories? Does He identify with the pain of devastated young girls caught in the degrading life of prostitution?
He sees. He cares. He feels their pain. And He has given us the opportunity to see them too.