In previous blogs I have covered the top ten teachings according to the frequency with which Christ taught (seen on page 133 of the download ‘What on earth have we done with the teachings of Jesus’). We are now covering the Words of Jesus regarding the poor. ‘Be hospitable to the poor’.
Who are the poor? Jesus was once asked this question in the form of ‘who is my neighbour whom I should help?’ He answered in the parable of the Samaritan who stooped to help one beaten and left for dead that he had found on his travels. We can deduce from this that the poor is one who is in need and unable to help themselves.
In the western world, we know the poor or those less fortunate than ourselves are all around us. It may be the one begging in the street or one hiding behind closed doors. Our governments offer a variety of benefits and helps to those on lower or no incomes. But there are still those who through no fault or even some fault of their own find themselves in need.
Even those who do have sufficient income to meet their own physical needs can find themselves in desperate need of emotional, mental and spiritual help. Where can we find them? How can we help them?
Most of us have enough to share
Clearly from this parable, Jesus expects us to meet the physical needs of others. Most of us have more than enough to be able to share with someone, somewhere. It is in keeping our eyes open. It is in stepping outside of our own world into theirs. It may be easier to keep our eyes shut and remain in our own little bubble. But for those who have been forgiven much and have received much, we are commanded to reach out to others. Even to deny ourselves of our own comforts to help another.
Some may feel this is a hard teaching. We have been conditioned to protect our own interests. But that is not the way that Jesus taught us to live. There is a world of need out there. And whilst we have breath in our lungs, we are to be His hands and feet. He reminds me constantly to do all the good I can do, with all the means that I have. This is where we meet with that ‘life in all its abundance’. This is where we find meaning and purpose. That of relieving the suffering of others. What else are we here for? How else do we store up our treasure in heaven?
Lets pray and seek the Lord for how we might help another. It may be that friend who just needs a comforting phone call. It may be volunteering at a local charity or looking for those fallen travellers along our way.
You will be repaid
Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbours. If you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 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.” When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” Luke 14:12
Henry says – Jesus takes this occasion to reprove the master of the feast for inviting so many rich people. These had the wherewithal to dine very well at home. He should have rather invited the poor, or sent portions to them for whom nothing was prepared. Those who could not afford themselves a good meal. (Neh. 8:10 “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength”). Our Saviour here teaches us that in the using of what we have in works of charity is better, and will give us a better account, than using it in works of generosity to those who have already.
One feast for the rich makes many for the poor
“Do not choose to treat the rich. Do not invite your friends, brothers and neighbours, who are rich,” Luke 14:12. This does not prohibit the entertaining of them where there may be the occasion for in the cultivating of friendship among relations and neighbours. But, “Do not make a common custom of it. Spend as little as you can that way, that you may not disable yourself from laying out in a much better way, in almsgiving. You will find it very expensive and troublesome. For one feast for the rich will make a great many meals for the poor.”
Solomon said, He who gives to the rich shall surely come to want, Prov. 22:16. “Give”, said Pliny, “to your friends, but let it be to your poor friends, not to those who have no need.” “Do not be proud of it.” Do not make many feasts only to make a show, as Ahasuerus did (Est. 1:3), and they think it reflects badly on their reputation if they do not have people of quality to dine with them. For this they rob their families, to please their fancies.
“Do not aim at being repaid to your own pocket.” This is that which our Saviour blames in making such entertainments: “You commonly do it in hopes that you will be invited by them, and so be recompensated. You will be gratified with such dainties and varieties as you treat your friends with, and this will feed your sensuality and luxury, and you will be no real gainer in the end.”
These are objects of charity
“Be proactive in relieving the poor. (Luke 14:13) When you make a feast, instead of furnishing yourself with what is rare and nice, get your table spread with a competency of plain and wholesome meat. That which will not be so costly, and invite the poor and maimed, those who have nothing to live on, nor are able to work for their living. These are objects of charity. They are in need of necessaries, so furnish them. They will recompense you with their prayers.
They will go away, and thank God for you, when the rich will go away and reproach you. Do not say that you are a loser, because they cannot recompense you. You will not be out of pocket, no, it is will gain the best interest, on the best security. For you shall be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.”
There will be a resurrection of the just, a future state of the just. There is a state of happiness reserved for them in the other world. We may be sure that those who are charitable will be remembered in the resurrection of the just, for the giving of alms are works of righteousness. Works of charity may not be rewarded in this world, for the things of this world are not the best of things. But they shall in no way lose their reward. They shall be recompensed in the resurrection. It will be found that the longest voyages make the richest returns. Those who are charitable will be no losers, but unspeakable gainers, by having their compensation adjourned till the resurrection.
Consider the gifts of His grace
When one of the guests said to Him, Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God (Luke 14:15), Christ spiritualises the feast He had been invited to. He frequently turned common actions into the best conversation. He had just set out the good rules of humility and charity. The guest now despairing to see them lived up to in the present degenerate state of things, longed for the kingdom of God. He pronounces them blessed who shall have a place in that kingdom.
Christ often spiritualised meals to the end of teaching the listeners. We too should take the occasion from common things to think and speak of heavenly and spiritual things. For it is one way of borrowing similitudes from them. It also will be good for us, when we are receiving the gifts of God’s providence, to further consider the gifts of His grace, those better things.
These thoughts will be very appropriate when we are partaking of bodily refreshments: Blessed are they who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. In that kingdom of grace, in the kingdom of the Messiah, which was expected to shortly to be set up. Christ promised His disciples that they would eat and drink with Him in His kingdom. They who partake of the Lord’s supper will eat bread in the kingdom of God, in the kingdom of glory, at the resurrection. The happiness of heaven is an everlasting feast. Blessed are they who shall sit down at that table, from where they shall rise no more.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
Though He was rich, He became poor Wait on Him for your daily bread. Live only yourself to die. Wait and gather the manna Falling straight from the sky. The rich man might trust in the Lord But the poor man must. From a position of wealth It is so easy to say, ‘I trust’. We live in a world of possessions Among a people who are always wanting more Jesus had only one opportunity to live this life. He chose to be poor. The children of this world vie with each other In luxury and display. How few there are who choose To truly walk in His way. Many of His chosen disciples and friends were poor. How beautifully He identified with them. He lived on charity borrowing many things On a borrowed donkey He rode into Jerusalem. He ate His last meal in a borrowed room And lay in a borrowed grave. With nothing He came into this world Yet everything He gave. He was rich indeed Yet for our sakes He became poor That through His poverty we might become rich A richness that lasts forevermore. By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
Prayer: Father, I pray that I would be known for my help to the poor. Make me willing to deny myself of my own comfort to help another. Whilst I have breath in my lungs, may I be Your hands and feet. Remind me constantly to do all the good I can do, with all the means that I have. For in this I know there is ‘life in all its abundance’. Prompt me to take the occasion from common things to think and speak of heavenly and spiritual things. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen.
Be hospitable to the poor
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