November 11, 2010

Being Kind

Proverbs 19:7-17

Those who are kind to the poor lend to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.
Proverbs 19:17


This proverb is quite a statement. Does God stand at the bank counter, filling out loan applications? Perhaps more literally than we might think.

The vast majority of the world’s people in ancient times earned their living through agriculture. And as any farmer knows, farming is risky. Crops fail because of drought or flood or insect infestation. Cattle die from disease or predators. In the ancient world, these hazards were not alleviated by insurance, fertilizers, or medicine. So lending to a poor farmer was always a risk. You might well not get your money back. Lots of things could happen before the anticipated harvest. To lend to the poor wasn’t necessarily shrewd, but it was definitely kind.

When God came as the incarnate Christ, he identified with the poor, not the rich. The Son of Man, he once said, has no place to lay his head. He and his disciples relied on others for their daily bread. Kindness to Jesus was literally “lending to the Lord.”

Today we are invited to treat the poor as we would treat Jesus. Lending to the poor, with no certainty of return, is a way of making an offering to God.

Do you give or lend to people in need, knowing that you may not get a return? If so, it’s as if you are lending to God.

Lord, help us not to calculate returns. The needs of others are a call to help and serve. When we do so, we give to you. Help us to be generous givers. Amen.

About the author — Kent Van Til

Kent Van Til was a missionary in Costa Rica. He taught theological ethics both there and in the USA. He is the author of four books. The most recent is a spiritual biography of his grandmother entitled, "A Name for Herself: A Dutch Immigrant's Story." Kent likes to fish, hunt, make music, and entertain his grandchildren.

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