“Who is like the Lord our God, the one who stoops down to look on the heavens and the Earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, he seats them with princes and the princes of his people.” Psalm 113:5-9
During the mission portion of our church Vacation Bible School, the leader presented information on his recent trip to a Ghana orphanage. Speaking to a group of second graders, he asked if anyone knew what an orphan was. The young girl beside me whispered in my ear, “I know what it is, because I am one.”
My eyes welled with tears as I hugged her petite frame. She was the same sweet face who just the day before remarked that her day at VBS was the best day she had ever had. Her standards were so low, it only took animal crackers and inflatables to appease her heart.
When God commands us to love our neighbors, he is referencing the girl in Ghana and the girl sitting next to you in the pew — and every girl, boy, woman, and man in between.
God’s first two commandments are to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength and to love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these (Mark 12:30-31).”
Who is our neighbor? Our neighbor is anyone of any race, creed, or social background who is in need. Love means acting to meet a person’s need. Wherever you live, needy people are close by. When we think of loving others as ourselves, consider that we would never allow ourselves to go without food, shelter, safety, or clothing. If we wouldn’t allow that for ourselves, we shouldn’t allow it for our neighbor.
In our key verse, I adore the image of the Lord stooping down to look at the needs on the earth. This tender picture of God almighty coming down to meet us warms my heart and encourages me to mirror his behavior to the best of my ability. God commands that we who have material goods should be generous with those who are needy. He does not separate the social and spiritual needs of people, but attends to both. While God is the hope of the needy, we are his instruments to help here on Earth. God wants our generosity to reflect his own free giving. As he has blessed us, we should bless others.
Just as God stoops down to meet our needs, he is asking us to stoop down. Take notice. Value people. Make a difference in the lives of the helpless — the outcast, the sinner, the child, the orphan, the widow, the poor, and the least of these. Jesus declares, “I tell you the truth, anything you did even for the least of my people here, you also did for me (Matthew 25:40).”
We must allow God to open the eyes of our hearts to see the need and trust he will work through us to provide for the need. We should love every person and serve anyone we can. We have all been one of the least of these in certain seasons of our lives. Oh what a difference it makes when someone takes notice and reaches out to meet us there.
When we meet the physical and emotional needs of people, they are more likely to be open to hearing the gospel message. That is the end goal — leading the world to salvation and eternal life. It doesn’t take much. Animal crackers, inflatables, smiles, and hugs have the power to change all of eternity.
Reflect and Respond:
Who needs God’s love expressed through you today?