Persevere in Serving
Don't let discouragement stop you. It is easy to get overwhelmed with the needs of others when you yourself may be facing needs or going through fiery trials but we are called to persevere. When I see so many people hurting on the streets and in our communities the burden weighs heavy upon me. We cannot stop at discouragement. We are called to serve the poor and to do that, we must do the sometimes-messy work of being in relationship with those we are serving. Let’s be encouraged by the ways we’ve seen organizations at work in this way as well as motivated to continue our own efforts to effect flourishing. We have to realize that we can not save everyone, we can not reach everyone but if we can do our little part, together it makes a huge impact and it most certainly makes a huge impact in the lives of all those we are serving.
Seek Effective Means of Change, but Not Perfection
This said, in the process of striving for sustainable and effective poverty-fighting, we cannot let perfect be the enemy of good. In difficult situations in which we are not sure what to do, we should lean toward mercy and grace. I get asked a lot, "What about those who deliberately take advantage of you?" I believe that the Lord spoke to my heart and said as long as I serve diligently and in good heart that my responsibility ends with serving and meeting them where they are at. Love Loudly and he will take care of the rest.
Keep Love as the Ultimate Goal
We should do our best to be effective as we serve the poor, but we cannot get so caught up that we lose sight of the goal—to love our neighbors. In the end, we are striving to improve how we work with the poor. We do not want these ideas to cause people to pull away from fighting poverty. We want our poverty efforts to double; we want people to get in the thick of it, to walk alongside the poor, and display the love of Christ.
Be Patient, Change Takes Time
In Romans 1
3:8-10, we are reminded that love is to do no harm. The type of love Paul is referring to is agape love. This love is the ultimate form of love as described in the Bible, and its qualifying characteristic is self-sacrifice. To truly love the poor, it will take time and effort, and it will not be easy.
My hope is that you are inspired to do what you can to serve the poor in your community. Macro-level changes are sometimes needed to make big changes in our communities; however, we cannot wait until these changes occur. We must go out, love our neighbors, and enact the change we can. Fighting poverty at the personal level, in relationship, is the most effective way to tackle the big problems we see around us, even if it seems like it isn’t enough.
With hundreds of thousands of people serving the poor on an individual level, respecting the poor, and allowing them to have ownership in their own development, we can bring about dramatic changes in macro-level issues. I challenge you to go out and be part of this change!
We will probably not see the end of poverty in our lifetime. But, God is sovereign and all-powerful, and his kingdom will be perfect—without blemish, without poverty, without hunger, without injustice. As we seek to serve our communities and love our neighbors, we must always keep this in mind and rely on Christ to do the work that we are unable to do ourselves.