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If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered. Proverbs 21:13

When our country was being established, it centered around agriculture, education and church. In a sense all of these had one major component in common: RELATIONSHIP. Schools were small, one-roomed buildings where everyone was together to learn, to play, to grow up. The youngest learned from the oldest, those who were ‘smart’ helped those who struggled. School was often held in the church. There was no separation of church and state, there was cooperation. And if a farmer was in need, the entire area joined together to help out.

Nothing made this more evident than the good ole’ fashioned barn raising. Farming was tough work. No huge tractors or combines to plant, cultivate or harvest the crops. Livestock and general upkeep required time and energy. But if someone needed a new barn everything stopped.

Barn-raisings weren’t limited to the men and boys who put up the barn. They were often family affairs. Women cooked food and children played. There was laughter and frienships formed. Boy’s met girls and future families were established. At the end of the day, when the barn was complete a barn dance celebrated more than a new building. It celebrated the glue that held the community together: RELATIONSHIP.

Proverbs 21:13 presents us with a hard lesson. Reaching out to the poor isn’t an option with the Christ-follower. Throughout the Bible, and especially in the Gospels we are told to reach out to the poor, care for the widows and orphans and bear the burdens of our brothers.

Reaching out to the poor isn’t just about finances. Reaching out to the poor and weak includes those who are poor in spirit. It’s reaching out to those who struggle with their identity, depression, chemical addictions, and even those who are in a bad situation as a result of their own poor (or stupid) decisions.

Relationship means I will do whatever I can to help you through what you are struggling with. I won’t require anything of you. I simply do what I do because of what Jesus has done in my life. Relationship says, “Together we will get through this.” In a word, relationship says GRACE.

The other side of the picture is this. Everyone joined in barn-raisings because they knew that if they were ever in need, these same families would come to their aid. As Christ-followers we stand by each other because we know that if our situation changes we have family to rely upon and oftentimes our ‘spiritual family’ is there for us more than our earthly family.

Don’t feel you have nothing to offer those in need. Give what you can emotionally and physically. Remember that relationship can heal better than any physical thing available. That’s why Jesus gave Himself for you.

PRAYER: Holy God, I thank you for the relationships you have brought into my life. I pray that you would allow me to see those around me in need and act to the best of my ability to help meet those needs. Empower me to do this, not so that I’ll have help when I need it, but so others will see Jesus in me. Protect me from those who intend to take advantage and harm me as I reach out to my neighbor in his/her time of need. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

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