The TV or print ads concerning aid for the hungry weigh heavily on the average person’s conscience. We are often quickly moved to open a checkbook or make a donation. Many churches or home fellowships have a system to help the known needs of those in the community. Most would react quickly and easily if they knew of a local family without food. We are familiar with James’ admonition,
If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? (2:15-16).James 2:15-16 KJV
Or, in more modern English,
If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?James 2:15-16 ESV
We know that everything that we have comes from the Father and that we are merely obedient stewards.
What if the need is a bit more? Maybe the neighbor’s only vehicle is broken down and you have two? Do you loan them a vehicle while they work things out?
How about something even bigger? You find out that you are a perfect match as a kidney donor for someone who desperately needs a good kidney. Are you willing to part with one, or, like James’ rebukes in the verses above say, “I’ll pray that God provides you with a kidney donor.”?
Most of us are quite familiar with at least one bigger need, but instead of taking serious steps to fill it, we say, “I’ll pray for you. May God help you in this area …”
Numerous books, Clyde Pilkington Jr.’s The Great Omission being one of the best, detail from one angle or another the blindingly obvious fact that single marriageable women in the church far outnumber single marriageable men. Most of those women ask for prayer all of the time as they deal with the weight of single parenthood, daily tasks and provision, security and loneliness. As a class of people, they have clearly defined basic needs.
The response from the Body of Messiah is almost uniformly, “I’ll pray for you.”
But, what if you are a stable loving family with the means and ability to “take the leap” and become the covering and solution for some lady’s need? What if you have studied the Scriptures and are convinced that plural marriage is righteous and acceptable before God? Is it sin to then turn a blind eye and “let someone else take care of the problem?” Is it sin to say, “I see it in Scripture, but I just can’t do it?” At what point are we held accountable for ignoring the needs of those around us?
This is very hard material to consider, but maybe knowing what we know obligates us to share more than a meal.
Originally published in the Patriarch’s Journal, Issue #20, December 2019.