"The Bible says that if you care for the poor, God will have your back." This astounding statement was made by none other than Bono, who was being interviewed a couple of years ago by Oprah. I didn't believe Bono, so I opened my Bible to Isaiah 58, and this is what I read:
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry and provide the poor wanderer with shelter--when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I." Isaiah 58:6-9
Who knew an Irish rock star with funky glasses could have such wisdom? Indeed, God looks out for those who are generous and care for the poor and needy. His ears are receptive to the prayers of those who spend themselves on behalf of the less fortunate. This is not just an Old Testament promise to the nation of Israel; this principle is mentioned numerous times in the New Testament as well, by Jesus, his disciples, and the Apostle Paul, among others.
Since stumbling on Isaiah 58, I have discovered that there are over 2000 verses which pertain to money, possessions, poverty, oppression, widows, orphans, and social justice. Sure, because I've been in a Bible church all my life I've heard a number of these verses here and there in a sermon or Bible study, but I've been overwhelmed by the enormity of what God's word has to say on this subject--more than what the Bible says about faith, prayer, or heaven and hell combined.
Learning what the Bible teaches has been easy compared to trying to absorb these verses and figure out what it means for my affluent and privileged existence, comfortably separated from poverty (local, national, and international) in my suburb where the median household income is $106,873.
I really like what Randy Alcorn says, "We're not to feel guilty that God has entrusted an abundance to us. But we are to feel compassionately and wisely use that abundance to help the less fortunate."
The question for myself is, "How do I balance honoring God by appreciating and enjoying the material blessings he has given me with being generous with my time, money, and resources to those who are truly needy?"