Driving along the road the other day, I spotted a sign that read “He that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord.” I didn’t remember ever hearing that particular verse and so I looked it up. It is from the Book of Proverbs. I don’t ever think about what I do as lending to the Lord, I suspect you don’t either, as if the lord needed a loan from you or me. After all, can’t God do what God desires to do? Isn’t it a little presumptuous to think we are lending to the Lord?
But when you look around at our world and even our own neighborhoods it makes you wonder, doesn’t it? There is a lot of mess out there – people dying in the streets, anger in society like I have never seen before, and no one seem to be cleaning up the mess.
It is easy to get discouraged or find yourself overwhelmed by what seems an abundance of negative energy coursing through the world, despite the efforts of so many good people to make the world a better place. As far as I can figure, the way God has arranged our life is that we have the opportunity or the challenge to engage life.
God is not the fixer. God allows us the choice of helping others so that we will learn how to love beyond our concern for just ourselves. God knows that love is not the stuff of the soap opera or romance novels, but hard stuff that calls people outside their normal boundaries to care for others. The way Jesus said it, “as you do it unto the least of these, you do it unto me.” But then again Jesus was a tough Jewish teacher always asking for more than comfortable answers because he knew love was hard.
There is a second part of this verse from Proverbs that says the Lord will repay in full measure. Most people read this and think it means that if I do good things in the name of the Lord, then good things will happen for me… a sort of quid pro quo. This may be true, but it is not necessarily “things” that one is blessed by.
Often God’s blessings are those things we don’t think about, like creating a larger place in our hearts to love others. Sometimes God’s blessing is the ability to recognize our own need for God’s love, or simply getting strong enough to reach out and help. Maybe some good things will come our way, but more liking God’s blessing is learning how to be generous to others. Grace and love are the tangible things that come from serving with God in the world. There is nothing better in the universe than knowing how to love and having the courage to do it.
What you and I have to lend to the Lord is ourselves, the love and compassion in our hearts. I guarantee you that if you are a Christian looking to find Jesus you’ll not find him on an altar between two candles, but in the toughest places, giving a glass of water to a thirsty man or woman, feeding the hungry, caring when it would be easier to stay at home.
You and I are the hands and heart and eyes of God in this world. It is why you were born.