Lenten Day 15: MERCY AND CARE FOR THE POOR,WIDOWS, STRANGERS AND OTHERS
MERCY AND CARE FOR THE POOR,WIDOWS, STRANGERS AND OTHERS
Text: ZECH. 7:8-11
Memory Verse: ZECH. 7:8 ‘Thus speaketh the Lord of Hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassion every man to his brother:’
MERCY is compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.
COMPASSION is sympathetic pity or concern for the sufferings or misfortune of others.
In our text we see God instructing Israel to show mercy and compassion to the disadvantaged.
He was instructing them to go beyond what the natural man would do. God understood that the natural man, in his natural position of heart is extremely selfish and would not look to the challenges of others.
Israel must not act like the natural man. They were the objects of God’s love and concern; therefore, they too ought to show same to their brethren.
This same expectation God has towards His church and even much more because His Spirit dwells in His church.
This study will examine the challenges of the disadvantaged, why the church ought to come to their aid and the correct way to actually do it so it brings glory to God and comfort to the recipients of the mercy and compassion.
THE CHALLENGES OF THE DISADVANTAGED
In this study the disadvantaged here refers to people like the poor, the widow, the stranger with no help, the less privileged and the likes.
These crop of people have a common challenge besieging them. They lack the ability to survive in the given environment where they have found themselves.
For some it could be the challenge of financial deprivation. This is the inability to meet the basic needs of human existence like food, clothing and shelter.
For others it could be that they have no husband to provide the father figure to their children and to fulfill the duties of a husband in their lives.
This sometimes opens them to the snare of predators who presume since they are without help and covering, can take advantage of them and use or abuse them.
For some others it could be that they are stigmatized because they have no children in marriage and as such are suffering the pains of being blacklisted from their in-laws and can be in danger of being set aside and or replaced with another presumed to be more fruitful.
For some it could be that they have entered a city where they know no one and as such cannot accomplish much.
Those who need to intervene are beyond reach.
Others could be those suffering from emotional trauma and all other kinds of affliction and even abuse.
Others could be those who are ex-convicts or rape victims who are now stigmatized and cannot even get a job because of their history.
This list of challenged and disadvantaged people and their issues is endless. The major issue is to recognize these people because there is another crop that is not really challenged but lazy.
They are not interested in the grind of work to be productive. They presume that the church is where to come and just receive help without having to be responsible for their upkeep.
These kinds are not to be treated in the same manner with those who truly are disadvantaged. This kind ought to be educated by the word of God.
THE CONCEPT OF MERCY FOR THE DISADVANTAGED
In view of the disadvantaged people listed, God desires that the church care for them.
God instructs all believers to be merciful to those going through these kinds of challenges.
Though the flesh might feel unconcerned, but God demands that the believer key into the Spirit to be able to express mercy and compassion.
Even in the Old Testament under the Old Covenant, God never allowed beggars in Israel.
This is because God had set in place a system by which the poor and needy were taken care of.
Begging only began to arise in Israel after they forsook the Lord and were taken into captivity. Even after captivity, they yet couldn’t follow Gods law and as such were brought under the Roman rule.
It is in this condition of near apostasy that beggars began to arise in Israel.
The intention of showing mercy is not to keep a person perpetually in a disadvantaged state but to express Gods love to one suffering and to help alleviate the pain of their challenge.
Showing care and mercy is helping the less privileged to know that God still cares and is yet interested in them. The power of such an intervention can literally lift them from their sorrow.
HOW TO SHOW MERCY AND CARE
One of the most potent things you can do for a brother is to pray for them. Challenges are fundamentally spiritual. It is their effect that is physical.
Therefore it becomes imperative that we pray for one another and especially for those in these challenges. God commands us to pray for one another.
It is not enough to pray.
God also commands us that when we can meet the need of such a person like the stranger, the poor, the widow etc., we ought to meet their needs (James 2:14-17).
There is also the option of counsel to those traumatized in order to begin their healing.
It is God’s desire that those who life had wounded should come to church and find healing amongst brethren.
It is not always wise nor is it godly to always give money to those who are in need. Sometimes we might be servicing a vice that renders them financially challenged.
So counsel can go a long way to solve the challenge and prove to be a more Godly and profitable means of showing mercy and care.
Again the means and manner of showing mercy and care is also endless. The major issue is to be led by the Spirit of God while we work within the confines of the word of God and not just our sentiments or intelligence.
Godly mercy is not accomplished by the flesh. When it is the flesh, it is a show off but when it is the Holy Ghost, it is profitable.
The flesh when it has shown mercy to people will announce it to the public. The Bible teaches that the approval men give such attitude is their reward.
They will no longer gain anything from the Father. But when it is done by Scriptural standards powered by the Holy Ghost, it is not a show for the world to eulogize the one showing mercy and care.
The Bible teaches that because it was done in the secret without satisfying the desire of the flesh to be praised for good works, the Father in heaven will reward that secret work done to the benefit of the less privileged (Matthew 6:3-4).