"She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; Yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy." Proverbs 31:29
This verse has always troubled me as a young mother. I would read and have visions of serving in poverty riddled tent camps in Africa, or giving money monthly to the people who advertise and show such scenes on T.V. Other times I would envision working in a soup kitchen or handing out blankets and water after a natural disaster. Then I would look around my home and laugh and wonder how I could ever help anyone else when I could barely keep up here. I would look at the clock and see that neither myself or the kids were dressed, the dishes were still in the sink, and the check book barely made it to the next week above zero as it was. If I didn't have time or money, what on earth could I do for the poor or needy?
Well, things are not always as it seems. First, I realized I needed to take a careful look at my life. Realize that this is a process that has happened many times over the years. Often my time was not always well spent and I had more time than I thought to help out those less fortunate. At other times my money was not always well managed and I had more than I thought to give to someone in need.
There have also been times when things were exactly as I saw them. There was very little wiggle room in the areas of time or money. I knew I had so much more than so many, but still saw no way to give. I asked the Lord for some practical ways to share my blessings. I was somewhat surprised at the big reveal. Maybe it would have been obvious to others, but to my humanly thick skull and sinful heart, it was an eye opener.
While we didn't have a lot of extra, we didn't lack anything we needed either. All those clothes I had grand ideas of selling at a yard sale or on Craigslist could be given away. Yes, even the expensive boutique clothes in GREAT shape. (That we received as gifts ourselves by the way.) Even those that would make a great extra deposit into our slim savings account. I could offer them up for free to someone I knew, or take them to the local mission. Our's here in Knoxville is outstanding. You can donate clothes that are sold for very cheap to anyone, so in one way those who need to can shop there and stretch their money further. Then the proceeds go to help feed the homeless. The beauty is that I can even shop there (and I do) and not only does it help my pocket book and allow me to be frugal, but I can help those in need at the same time!
Please understand I am not saying that you should not be frugal, or make the most of what you have, or be wise with your money. It is okay to have a garage sale or sell items online. I am just saying this one way the Lord showed me I could follow his commands to help the poor and needy, manage my home more efficiently (declutter), and manage the financial blessings he has given us at the same time! Praise His name!
If you are struggling with this command today I encourage you to take an honest look at how you spend your time and your money. Is it in line with God's will? If so, and you see no room to do anything else, ask Him to show you how he would have you follow this specific command. He will answer.