Helping the Afflicted and Needy Deepens Our Personal Relationship with God
By: Margaret Knight
In the last two posts of this series discussing Isaiah 58:1-11, we saw how God requires Christians’ hearts to be purely and completely devoted to God for our worship to please Him and how caring for the afflicted and needy in the world shows our hearts are right with God. In verses 9-11, God tells the Israelites what will happen if they serve only Him and care for others:
9. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
You will cry, and He will say,
‘Here I am.’
If you remove the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness,
10. And if you give yourself to the hungry
And satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
Then your light will rise in darkness
And your gloom will become like midday.
11. And the LORD will continually guide you,
And satisfy your desire in scorched places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.
Verses 9-11: Helping the afflicted and needy will deepen your personal relationship with God
We will have a deeper personal relationship with God when we help the afflicted and needy. He will answer us when we call on Him (v. 9). He will guide us, satisfy our desires, and give us strength (v. 11).
The prophet Jeremiah compares the current corrupt generation of Israel to the righteous generation of the past. God says of the past generation, “’He pled the cause of the afflicted and needy; then it was well. Is not that what it means to know Me?’ Declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 22:16). There is a direct connection between knowing God and helping the afflicted and needy.
A ruler comes to ask Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus reminds him to obey the commandments. The ruler responds that he has kept all the commandments since he was a boy. Jesus says, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me” (Luke 18:22). The ruler was probably going to the Temple (Church) and reading and following the law (the Bible). However, Jesus told him he was still missing something—caring for the poor and following Jesus. Jesus articulates caring for the poor and following Him as “one thing.” In order to inherit eternal life, we must let go of all the things that bring us security and comfort, our idols, and follow Jesus our whole life. Jesus says if the ruler gives his wealth to the poor, he will have treasures in heaven. These treasures, gained from giving to the poor, will be the gifts that you will use to worship God for all eternity. This is huge.
Desiring God and Seeking Justice
Not only do I see the connection between my heart’s posture towards God and social justice in scripture, I have experienced it personally in my own life. During my nine months of helping International Justice Mission rescue bonded laborers in India, God revealed so much sin in my life. He taught me how to love, not just the bonded laborers and millions of Hindus and Muslims in India, but also how to love my brothers and sisters in Christ.
Ever since India, there has been a desire to know God more and more burning inside of me. Getting to know Him better can be a very painful process. The more I get to know Him, the more I see my sin and how it hides itself in my heart, tempting me to bow down to other idols and helping me justify my lack of love for others. But, there is forgiveness and hope in the Gospel and God. Even though He sees all my ugliness, He still loves me and will never leave me.
It is true that when you seek God and justice that He does “continually guide you” (Isaiah 58:11). Now, He has led me to law school. Once I get my J.D. and pass the Bar, I want to be an advocate for human trafficking victims in the United States. I am not trying to suggest that all believers are called to make social justice their careers. God may be calling you to be an investment banker, a movie director, a dancer, a politician, a doctor, or a stay-at-home mom. However, I will argue that, no matter where you are in life, God has given you resources and gifts that you should use to serve the afflicted and needy. There are so many organizations, ministries, and groups to which you could donate your money, time, and talents. If you want to help the afflicted and needy in your local community and do not know where to start, pray and ask God to show you where there is a need.
This blog exists to spread awareness about a great need to help children, women, and men who are sexually exploited. If you’re interested in learning more about ASCENT 121, donating to their cause, volunteering, and/or being a prayer partner, visit www.ascent121.org for more information.
I’ll end with a quote from Amy Carmichael, an Irish missionary who spent her adult life in South India saving girls from forced temple prostitution and sharing the Gospel with them in the early 1900s:
“You can give without loving. But you cannot love without giving.”
Margaret lives in Indianapolis where she is a law student focusing on Criminal and International Law. After graduating from law school, she wants to be an advocate for those who are suffering from injustices, most specifically human trafficking. Margaret enjoys learning how to cultivate a hospitable heart, traveling to new places, and growing in knowledge about God through His Word and life experiences. She has volunteered as Ascent 121’s social media and blog manager since March 2015.