Do you know what it feels like to have a need? I suppose that each one of us has needs. We all need air to breathe and food and water to sustain our bodies. We probably all need love and have a need to feel a purpose in our lives. We all need God and appreciate that He gave His one and only Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. A need is something that you require to avoid a bad consequence. I suppose that there are all kinds of needs. Some needs, like air, are very basic. At the other end of the spectrum, you may also say that you need something when in reality it is actually just a desire or a want.
Do not just think of what you need, but consider the needs of your Christian brother or sister. The apostle John taught us in 1 John 3:17 “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” When you have resources and you see your brother in need but you coldly avoid sharing with him what you have, how do you have love? How can you say that you love your brother and how can you say that you love God. 1 John 4:20-21 “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.” Since loving God is the first and greatest commandment, opening up your heart to love your brother and helping him in his time of need is of great importance.
Jesus described His judgement of the nations in Matthew 25:31-44. He will separate the people to the right and the left as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. Matthew 25:41-46 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” The reason given for sending those on the left to everlasting punishment was that they saw those who had needs and they didn’t minister to the needs. They saw those who were hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, or sick or in prison. These had needs of food, drink, lodging, clothes, and to be visited. Those on the left saw the need, had the ability to help, but shut up their heart and did not help. They did not have the love of God in them. Therefore, they were rejected by the Lord.
Here are some of the commands given in the Old Testament relative to the poor and those in need. Deuteronomy 15:7-11 “If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs. Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart, saying, ‘The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,’ and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing, and he cry out to the Lord against you, and it become sin among you. You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the Lord your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand. For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’” Leviticus 25:35-37 “If one of your brethren becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you. Take no usury or interest from him; but fear your God, that your brother may live with you. You shall not lend him your money for usury, nor lend him your food at a profit.”
There may be times when it unwise to give for a need. For example, if someone is lazy and will not work, neither should he be given food to eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10). If someone misuses your gift and purchases something different from the intent of the gift, it may be unwise to continue giving to that person. I do not have all the answers on giving. I do know that the Bible is clear that the motive for helping those in need should be love. If you shut up your heart and do not demonstrate love, the love of God does not abide within you. 1 John 3:18 “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:16 “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”
The responsibility for helping those in need rests with those who have the ability to supply the need. 1 Timothy 6:17-19 “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”
My encouragement to you is to be eager to help those who you see that have a need. Galatians 6:9-10 “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”