For the Poor, the Widow, and the Orphan: Lessons from Christian History

Cappadocian fathers

We don’t like these words. They seem discriminatory at their very root. When we call someone poor, it is nearly considered a sin worthy of shame in the West. When we call someone a widow, it is merely a name that reminds the woman in question that her husband has died. When we say orphan, it reminds the child in question that their mother and father have abandoned them in one form or another. But this ought not to be so. As Christians, many of us have been the poor (and still are), many women have been abandoned by their husbands only to become single mothers trying to raise children by themselves, and all of us, at least spiritually, were at one time orphans completely separated from our heavenly Father by our depravity.

Why is it that we must take care of the poor, the widow, and orphans? It is at the very core of the gospel to minister to those who cannot repay you. After all, isn’t this the very nature of God’s grace through Christ to us? It is a poor personal and financial decision to invest either emotionally or monetarily in someone who is helpless. Maybe this is why the affluent West has forgotten to make this a priority; the consequence is that we become distant from the nature of the grace we ourselves have been given; which we can never repay and which was more costly than we can ever know.

There are characters from the history of the church that made taking care of the less fortunate a priority in their lives. Basil the Great (329-379 A.D.) once wrote:
“If one who takes the clothing off another is called a thief, why give any other name to one who can clothe the naked and refuses to do so? The bread that you withhold belongs to the poor; the cape that you hide in your chest belongs to the naked; the shoes rotting in your house belong to those who must go unshod.”

Another saint of the past had acquired great wealth as a professional jeweler for the king of France himself; he is known today as St. Eligius (588 – 1 December 660 A.D.). He was known, not for his preaching as much as his care for the poor. At one point, a man came into Paris looking for the house of Eligius. The man was told to go to a certain street and that when he came to that street that he should look for the house with all of the poor crowding around out front. That was the house of Eligius.

As Christians, what question should we be asking? Is it, “How do I make more money so that I can get more of the stuff I want?” Because the question we should really be asking, “How do I make more money so that I can give more away?” The helping of the poor is all throughout Scripture and the earliest Christians made it their routine to be charitable to the needy in their local communities and assemblies. I leave you, the reader with this one thought to reflect on, “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.” Proverbs 19:17

The Lord’s Table

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Who should be permitted to take communion?  Why should we care?  What does communion mean?  These are all questions that I have asked myself repeatedly and it’s a question that many theologians, denominations, councils, and Christians down through the ages have asked themselves.  Is this bread and wine the actual body and blood of Christ?  Is it merely a symbol; a mere memorial of Christ’s death; or is there more to it than that? Click to read the rest of this post >>

Adam’s Blame

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We’ve said it thousands of times, “God, this is all your fault!” or “God, how dare you do this to me!” or maybe “You could prevent this if you wanted to, God!” and finally, “Why me, God?” These all bear resemblance to the way that Adam reacted to God in the Garden of Eden after the fall. We see Adam clearly blaming the woman, known as Eve, for the sin that he himself has committed. Adam says to God, who has asked him if he committed sin, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12 ESV, emphasis mine).

Clearly, Adam is blaming his sin on two individuals: he blames the woman for tempting him and God for creating the source of his temptation. Isn’t this what we all do when confronted with our own depravity on some level? We look to blame others for our poor choices, we blame them for our bad circumstances, and ultimately, we fault our Creator for not taking a more active role to prevent the pain that has come into our lives. In short, we behave just as Adam did and attempt to project our guilt onto others…most importantly, we credit evil to God. Click to read the rest of this post >>

I’m Afraid To Die

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I’m afraid to die and I’ve never quite gotten over the fear of death, nor do I think that I will in this lifetime. If you’re a Christian, then you’ve been told your entire life that when you die, that you’ll go to heaven. When you’ve been told this, you’ve been comforted and thought that maybe death isn’t going to be that bad…but then you think to yourself, “But how do I know that I’ll go to heaven? Is heaven even real? If it is, how do I know that I’ll get in?”

These thoughts plague the deepest parts of the mind much as the shadowed area on a warm day covers a patch of snow and prevents the evidence of a winter’s chill from melting away. Even during the brightest patches of our lives, each of us considers that it is both fleeting and ever so temporary. Death awaits every one of us from the rich to the poor and from the happiest of individuals to the most melancholy. No matter what type of happiness we find, the truth looms overhead, “You will die.” Click to read the rest of this post >>