In this photo taken Oct. 6, 2012, Don Matyja, a homeless Army veteran poses for a picture with his dog Tyson at Lions park in Costa Mesa, Calif. (Credit: AP)
Jesus loved and cared deeply for the poor. Both the Old and New Testaments are filled with the commandments of God to care for the poor, for widows and orphans. The story of the Good Samaritan serves as a perfect example of an appropriate expression of compassion. Remember, both the priest and Levite walked by and paid no attention to the one in obvious need. Religious traditionalists too often neglect the direct commands of God following their own lifeless, loveless traditions of men. The Lord revealed that assisting the poor is also a ministry and love expressed directly to Him. What greater source of inspiration could be found to encourage us to notice and help those who suffer? We are also doing it to Jesus.
Betty and I, our family, and the supporters of LIFE Outreach have discovered indescribable joy and a sense of eternal accomplishment to the glory of God when we offer meaningful assistance to the poor and suffering around the world. God is well pleased and His peace as well as His provision prevails in our lives even in the face of fierce challenges and obvious heartache.
One of the most beautiful memories of visits with our daughter Robin, who went to be with Jesus three days after Christmas, occurred each time we arrived at her first home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her children would rush our car as we drove up to the house with little sandwich bags filled with money, smiling and shouting, “Mimi and Papaw, here is money we saved and earned to help feed hungry children!” What a blessing this was and we give thanks to God for it.
Please hear my heart concerning our dear nation and the poor. America’s poor and needy are being hurt and held back by bad policies and practices on the part of our own government. All manner of evil and liberal, even godless, causes are being encouraged and supported by what is frequently referred to by mainstream media and spokespersons as “social justice.” This has actually proven to be a gross injustice to every American, and especially the poor.
What was launched by President Lyndon B. Johnson as a “War on Poverty” has proved to be a “War on the Poor” which actually keeps many not only poor, but hopelessly enslaved as dependents with little or no personal confidence or meaningful ambition. The pitiful plight of the needy has made them the pawns of politicians who need their votes to retain their power. This practice is not only insane, it is cruel and will cripple America economically. Realistic chances to succeed, gain wealth and generate a stable income will disappear. In the name of “social justice,” we are tolerating and even supporting horrible injustice.
Consider the destruction of the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Unnatural sexual attraction and evil practices prevailed. But that is not why God said He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Ezekiel 16:49-50 says, “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it.”
America may not be destroyed with fire from above, but the raging fires of lust, greed, addiction, idolatry, trusting mere men (the flesh) rather than God and His truth will become our source of destruction. Look what “we the people” have allowed to happen. Satisfaction with the success and wealth of personal prosperity has led far too many Americans to trust the blessings freedom made possible while forsaking the truth and the living God who is necessary to set us free and keep us free.
We have allowed our government to collect excessive taxes, supposedly just on “the rich,” although the expenses reach down to every level of society through increased tax rates and higher prices on everything from gas and electricity to groceries and goods as well as property and travel. When the revenue generated through higher taxes is questioned in any way, we are told that any reduction will hurt pregnant mothers, handicapped children, and, of course, “the poor.” Never mind the fact that money will still flow to bloated union bureaucrats, “green energy” companies (many of which have already gone bankrupt), hard-line Muslim groups in the Middle East and North Africa, and hundreds of other questionable or wasteful recipients. The false impression is that “social justice” is on the rise and the poor are better off than ever before.
Because of this deception, many Americans have stopped even noticing their neighbors just as the priest and Levite did in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Meaningful assistance to the poor has diminished. The poor are now in prison to a sense of entitlement and have lost the vision to reach for their own success through personal determination.
Most Americans are convinced that economic conservatives, political conservatives, and highly successful people do not care about the poor and needy. This is not true of the vast majority, but they must help correct this perception. The responsibility for providing meaningful assistance to the needy must not be left to the government and misguided politicians. Motivated and capable citizens must prove they care by leading with compassionate action and demonstrating their concern by producing meaningful, positive results. We must give people a hand up, not a hand out. This requires serious personal attention and involvement! All government programs must be managed by wise, caring overseers to prevent waste and to continue supporting only what proves to be effective. Those who pay most of the taxes must assume responsibility for seeing to it that all hard-earned dollars are used wisely to produce the best results. We cannot hand off that responsibility or the responsibility for assisting the needy to those who continually prove they do neither well.
I continually thank God that I grew up poor but with a single mother who showed me the grace found in Christ giving us the ability to forgive and not be controlled by bitterness and hate. I did not have to live poor, dependent or defeated. She inspired me to read the biographies written for children about great Americans and leaders throughout history. She told me God could do anything if we trust Him and work hard. This is the same message Dr. Ben Carson heard from his own mother Sonya while he lived in poverty without a father in Detroit. Our backgrounds and our stories are so similar and with determination and faith in God we were able to dig our way out of the mire of misery and depravity. Our lives are just two examples of what God, hard work and true freedom makes possible if only we believe and act.
Our nation will not be spared a catastrophic economic and moral collapse if we don’t turn to God and experience the necessary spiritual awakening. The collapse is eminent, but by no means necessary. We can correct our course. God’s challenge is the one that must be heeded. Those considered rich (the top ten percent) who pay seventy percent of the federal income tax must recognize much of that money is not being used effectively. The ever increasing entitlement programs are failing and the wealth producers must become personally involved in alleviating very real human suffering. They must do more than pay high taxes that will be terribly mismanaged, after all it is their money that is being wasted and used to support programs proven to destroy the opportunity and freedom that enabled them to succeed.
In the same way determination, focus and entrepreneurial diligence produced wealth and prosperity, the successful can assist the poor by personal involvement and attention given to their plight. Every American and certainly every Christian and all who claim faith in God must become involved establishing and supporting compassionate connections with the needy. First, we give ourselves totally to God, then give from our money and time to help neighbors in need. Together nothing is impossible for us to accomplish for the glory of God and benefit of others. We must stop making excuses, blaming others, and dismissing ourselves from personal responsibility and our divine assignment. Again, remember, money in itself is not evil. It is in fact necessary and is to be used as a blessing for us, our families and others. It is the “love of money” that leads to “all sorts of evil”. It dims our vision, leading to blindness and spiritual deafness which will contribute to our downfall. It was likely the love of money, laziness and no attention to the poor that paved the way to the moral decadence and wickedness rampant in Sodom and Gomorrah which led to its destruction. This is now happening in America, the once beautiful nation.
God is anxious and able to correct us, to save us and to use us to bless Him and others as we express His love through compassionate assistance to those in need. Some, especially the rich, may find true repentance very difficult, but with God all things are possible. It is this God and this God alone who can and will heal our land when we humble ourselves, pray, seek His face and turn from our wicked ways – which includes the love of money, success, selfishness, prevailing indifference, idolatry and faithless, dead religion.
“Repent, and I will make up to you for the years the locusts [for America – foolish decisions] have eaten.” (Joel 2:25, comment added)