HELPING THE NEEDY
“Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy” (Prov. 31:9).
A second necessary characteristic of those who seek to have a pure religion is to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction. “Pure religion and undefiled before (the) God and the Father is this, to visit (1980 – literally to inspect) the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).
The Lord greatly honored a sister whose primary work was to help the needy in her community. “Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did. And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber. And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them. Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them” (Acts 9:36-39). Notice that the ones who cared most were the ones Dorcas had helped.
The great thing about Cornelius is that he feared God, cared for the needy and prayed to God. “There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God” (Acts 10:1-4).
Note that the thing that pleased the Lord most in this case was his compassion on the needy. What would happen if all of us were like this? Widows and orphans have many discouragements, and who knows if the Lord will use us to help them?
“He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again” (Prov. 19:17).
“He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse” (Prov. 28:27).