Hearing the cries of the poor

By Richard Land
Aug 21, 2009

As Christians, it is our responsibility to care for the downtrodden. Scripture makes clear the joy inherent in doing so. Proverbs 14:21 observes that “whoever shows kindness to the poor will be happy.”

The biblical account of Boaz, a “prominent man,” and Ruth, a young widow attempting to support herself as well as her widowed mother-in-law, is a beautiful example of personal financial sacrifice for the sole purpose of helping someone living in poverty and despair.

Scripture recounts that after Ruth asked the workers harvesting Boaz’s barley crop if she could walk behind them and pick up, or glean, the grain they had dropped, Boaz instructed the men: “Be sure to let her gather [grain] among the bundles, and don’t humiliate her. Pull out [some] stalks from the bundles for her and leave [them] for her to gather. Don’t rebuke her” (Ruth 2:15-16).

Boaz was following the instruction to God’s people from Leviticus 9:9-10: “When you reap the harvest of your land, you are not to reap to the very edge of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You must not strip your vineyard bare or gather its fallen grapes. Leave them for the poor and the foreign resident.” Note that Boaz not only followed the law but also went beyond what it required. And being a man “of noble character,” he made sure that Ruth would be protected while working in his fields and not rebuked or humiliated because of her vulnerable state.

You can make compassion for the poor a part of your Christian lifestyle by practicing modern-day versions of gleaning. You might offer to pick up the day-old bread from local grocery stores and distribute it to food ministries, or you might simply use a bread bank to collect your family’s change for the World Hunger Fund.

Proverbs 21:13 tells us plainly that our prayers will not be heard if we close our ears to the cries of the poor. It seems unlikely, therefore, that the church in America will experience blessing and revival if we fail to demonstrate concern and care for poor and hungry people.

And the bottom line is that meeting physical needs through hunger ministry opens doors for sharing Christ. As believers, that’s what God expects of us.

For more information on the issue of world hunger, including resources to promote the World Hunger Fund, visit worldhungerfund.com.

Further Learning

Learn more about: Citizenship, Hunger/Homelessness, ,


1 On Oct 7, 2009, at 1:42am, Al West wrote:

Thank you for pointing out what the Bible is crystal clear about and that is the cry of the poor, widow and the orphan. The Lord gave me that burden decades ago and I pray the Church will realize the wonderful opportunity we have in sharing the gospel just as Christ did when He was here.

I operate an agency that not only assists people in crisis, but also works to move them out of poverty. Yes, we are doing the work of the church. I do offer my services to churches on setting up mercy ministries and beyond. It’s my prayer that the church will love the loveless and share Jesus Christ with them.

2 On Oct 8, 2009, at 12:04am, Bill Simpson wrote:

The issue isn’t so much whether gleaning is a good idea, the issue is whether SBC leaders will ever actually put the denomination in a place where gleaning is possible.  Gleaning requires some level of social/geographical proximity between the “haves” and the “have nots.”  As a largely rural and suburban denomination with a wholly inadequate inner city church planting/church strengthening strategy, it’s difficult to envision how America’s urban poor are ever going to glean much from SBC practioners who are mostly afraid of poor neighborhoods and conditioned to believe that the goal of “sustainability” is the “be all, end all” of church planting.  Supporting food banks and urban ministries is a wonderful idea.  An even better idea is committing significant denominational resources to long-term inner city church planting and church strengthening initiatives that forever alter the ministry landscape in urban America.

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