“The Poor Have the Gospel Preached to Them”

Text: Matthew 11:2-5

The common perception in the world is that churches are charitable organizations designed to help the poor. Denominational churches spend much time, energy, and money helping the poor. Those who are in need (or claim to be) often visit churches seeking a handout. In this lesson, we will consider what the Bible has to say about helping the poor and what is the most important thing we can do for the poor.

Christians Must Be Concerned for the Poor

  • We are to help those in need (Galatians 2:10; Ephesians 4:28; James2:14-17)
  • We are to help as we have opportunity (Galatians 6:10) – those with legitimate needs (cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:10)
  • But the Lord’s church is not a charity – He did not design or ordain it to be one; He designed & ordained it for a different purpose

Jesus and the Poor

  • John sent his disciples to Jesus to ask if He was the Messiah (Matthew 11:2-3) – one of the proofs that Jesus cited was that “the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Matthew 11:4-5; cf. Luke 4:16-21); no mention of feeding them, clothing them, or giving them money
  • No record in the gospels of Jesus ever giving money to those who asked for it (or who needed it) – was this because He lacked compassion? … of course not! (Matthew 19:21; Luke 14:13-14; John 13:27-29)
  • There were times when Jesus fed the crowds that followed Him (Matthew 14:14-21; 15:32-38) – but not because they were poor, but because they were present
  • Jesus’ emphasis was always on teaching – so those seeking free food left (John 6:26, 60-66)

Peter and the Lame Beggar

  • Notice the example of Peter & the lame beggar at the temple gate (Acts 3:3-8) – Peter did not give him a handout, even though he may have been worthy of help
  • Peter gave him what he had – the power to heal him
  • We cannot perform miracles like this today – but why did miracles exist then? … to confirm the word (Mark 16:20)
  • After healing this man, Peter preached & many believed (Acts 4:4)
  • Though this man had a legitimate financial need, he received something far more valuable – the opportunity to hear the gospel of Christ

Our Work to Help the Poor

  • Jesus said, “You always have the poor with you” (Matthew 26:11) – though we may want to help, we will not always be able to help the poor with their material needs
  • Who else do we always have with us? … Sinners – in far greater numbers too
  • We must be busy teaching the gospel to the lost (1 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 3:15)
  • This is not meant to minimize the importance of benevolence – but remember what is truly important

Conclusion

  • The Lord does not expect us to give people everything they want – but He has equipped us to give them everything they need
  • While we should do good to all (Galatians 6:10), remember what all men need – the word of God (James 1:21; Romans 1:16)

Read the article: “The Poor Have the Gospel Preached to Them”


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