Thursday, March 18, 2010

She Stretches Out Her Hand to the Poor

“She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.”

Now we come to the part that everyone has been waiting for, finally the Proverbs 31 woman is walking out her front doors and entering the “real world”. She’s finally showing us Christian service and giving us something we can do for God. She will now begin true service and enter the ranks of the blessed Christians throughout history who have given all to serve God whole-heartedly! But before we start out on this grand adventure, a question; does the verse say she leaves home to care for the poor? Doesn't the old saying say, "Charity begins at home"?

Now you may think I’m just trying to be funny, but if you have heard anyone talk about the Proverbs 31 woman lately, it probably sounded something like that. You see, the enemy has deceived us into thinking that we have to go somewhere to be serving God. Staying at home couldn’t possibly be serving like a missionary serves or like a pastor or someone who works outside the home and can share with co-workers. Or can they? Some of us in the church are taught from a young age that motherhood was somehow a job of lesser importance. When I was a kid in Sunday School, many years ago, our teacher asked us one day what we wanted to be when we grew up. There was of course the usual policeman, fireman kind of answers, which were all given a standard, “that’s nice” reply. Then one girl said she wanted to be a mom. The teacher got very quiet and asked her if was something else she wanted to be too, as if motherhood was not enough. I don’t remember the girl's reply but I remember thinking smugly to myself that I wanted more than just being a mom. When my turn came, I proudly announced I wanted to be a missionary. That got high praise from our teacher.

I think some of us as moms feel that way even now. We think that because our service happens in our own four walls that it is somehow inferior to what happens in the “real world”. What I didn’t know at 8 was that God would use me as a missionary. But I wouldn’t be traveling to faraway lands and speaking foreign languages to do it, I would be teaching the Bible to children, who are eager to learn and training them to love and serve God will all their hearts so that when they grow up they will be strong and firm in the Word and willing to stand up for Jesus wherever they are. My mission field is much smaller than I had dreamed, but it is just as sweet to see a little child begin lisping out a prayer as it is to see anyone come to the Lord on foreign soil, especially if that child is your own.

Now, to return to our devotion for the day!

The verse, when read literally, says, “She gives bountifully out her hand to those who don’t have much; she stretches out both of her hands to the afflicted poor.” In other words, she is always ready to give where there is a need, big or small.

All of us can find ways to give. The opportunities are all around us. Most of us think of money when we think of giving, but sometimes giving may mean a meal to a sick friend or yard work for someone who can’t do it for themselves or maybe it is gathering clothing and food for a displaced family. Some don’t have an abundance of money to give away, but we can all practice charity, which is what this verse is showing us. Whatever it is that God lays on your heart to do, do it and do it with a cheerful heart. (II Cor. 9:7)

Part of what we are called to do as believers is follow James 1:27 which says, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” As a church body, we are to care for the fatherless and widows around us. This is another way to give bountifully.

The point is to do what you can. And let God bless you and those around you with what He has given to you to give away on His behalf. And what a blessing that is in and of itself.

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