The steps in my process for studying scripture are fairly simple. I begin with the most important part – PRAYER. In order to receive what the Lord has for us we must begin with talking with the author! Father God inspired the Word to be written by human men and it is alive in every way. He desires to reveal the mysteries of His Word to His children. I read through the passage in context and then I go to the Strong’s Concordance and see what each word has been translated from. There are so many nuances to the wording of phrases and such – it is very enlightening to go back to the original language. My study process is the same for each verse.
My examination of verse 20 was the same, but this time instead of bringing out the definitions of the words I feel very strongly that we need to go to the Rhema of the verse. The Logos is the written Word and the Rhema is the revelation of the Word through the Holy Spirit – the way that He quickens it in our hearts and minds. The Logos of this verse is clear but as always we must seek the Lord for His meaning to our lives at the time we are studying it. Have you noticed that verses tend to be very different in their meaning pertaining to the situation you are in when you are studying them? Of course, there is the possibility of getting off into left field if you are not very careful – we must consider the context and the heart of the Father when studying His Word. The Holy Scriptures are not to be used to build up our own opinions and thoughts. We must change our hearts to meet the Word and not vice versa.
One of the true marks of a child of God is the way he or she serves others. It is the hallmark! This verse addresses this in a clear and concise way. The Virtuous Woman stretches her hand to the poor and needy. This is the part of this verse that I want to discuss. Poor and Needy.
All of us have experienced those who are in need and I will add that each of us have even been the ones in need at some point in our lives. Personally I choose to not share much about times of my life when I have had great need because I rather focus on the great times of blessing. I have learned many things in those very hard times and the most valued thing is that no matter what this world throws at me, MY GOD REIGNS! He has always taken care of us and He always will. Even at those times when I felt like there was not another hour left in my life because I could not bear the burden any longer – He took care of us. I share this to say that even in those darkest moments there was always someone who needed help more and that kept things in great perspective.
Let’s look at the words poor and needy for reference-
Strong’s `aniy - Poor
1) poor, afflicted, humble, wretched
a) poor, needy
b) poor and weak
c) poor, weak, afflicted, wretched
d) humble, lowly
Strong’s ‘ebyown – Needy
1) in want, needy, chiefly poor, needy person
2) subject to oppression and abuse
3) needing help, deliverance from trouble, especially as delivered by God
4) general reference to lowest class
As I read these definitions I notice something very interesting – none of these terms addresses finances specifically. Do you notice that? I mean, our concept of poor means financially deficient, right? Wikipedia defines poor as: 1. Lacking enough money to live comfortably in a society. Most people automatically use finances in their interpretation of the word Poor, but it seems to me that Strong’s defines it more focused on other aspects: weak, afflicted, wretched, humble, lowly. Again in the word “needy” we see subject to oppression and abuse, lowest class, in want.
You may feel that I am intentionally missing the point, but I feel it is important here to stretch our mental picture of these words. Remember
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8, 9
God’s Word is so full that it literally overflows with truths that we have yet to discover. His Word is truly ALIVE! So with that in mind we must genuinely seek Him when studying.
Now back to poor and needy – there have been periods of my life when I was truly poor. I have never been homeless but I have been very close to it. I know what it is like to have no food in the cabinet and no money to get any. The bill collector was a common part of my life many, many years ago. There were nights when I went to bed trying to determine where I could find help the next day and at the same time knowing that there was no one – no human to help me. But God always took care of us. Yes, sometimes it was at the very last moment but He was never too late. In those times of my life, even with tremendous financial need, what got me through so often was a fellow brother or sister in the Lord encouraging me to hang on. Money would have been a wonderful help, but someone showing me they actually cared about me was worth more than gold. A kind voice on the other end of the phone just telling me that they were praying for me and even though they couldn’t put cash in my hand, they wanted to tell me how valuable I was to the Lord and to them. I was poor and needy but at those moments I knew I was still of value. And I have to say that there were so many times when I thought no one on this planet gave a hoot about me except my children. Have you ever felt that way?
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” Proverbs 25:11
Apples of gold in pictures of silver indeed!!!
I feel strongly that while this scripture speaks to the importance of us giving financially (money, food, etc) to those who are without, the need for us to be the support and encouragement for them is just as important. Every human has times of torment from the devil – doubts, fears, discouragement. Yes, as we grow in Christ, these Satanic attacks should become less and less affecting to our heart and mind. But until that time comes those who are able to should be quick to offer that precious word of encouragement. And yet, the church is filled with lonely and discouraged people. Families are as well.
It is all too common for members of a family to neglect one another emotionally. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” ? Are there members in your own family who feel left out or unimportant. Are there “favorites” chosen silently but obviously? This is a deep problem and needs to be examined in every family. A person’s personality is distinct and it is usually the cheerful, eager, diligent or “responsible” person who is most popular amongst their family. You could add in many characteristics that everyone really enjoys. But what about the ones who do not fit that criteria? Are they less valuable. Look back at verse 20 and the definitions: afflicted, humble, wretched, weak, lowly, lowest class. When is the last time you reached out to comfort someone that you considered wretched?
Hmmmm – now sending money to a third world country doesn’t really cover it, does it? It is important for us to give in that way, but remember movie stars give more money to needy causes than you or I could ever imagine giving. When is the last time you reached out – personally – to the truly lonely and afflicted?
“But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked. That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.”
1 Corinthians 12: 20 -26
This part of the study is really addressed to every Christian woman. It doesn’t matter if you are married or not. All of us need to heed this call. But allow me to finish with an admonishment to wives. Sisters, is your husband the poor and needy in your life? Again, not necessarily talking about money here but about the spirit – the heart of the man. Is he feeling lonely and weak? Don’t think about how you are feeling right now – examine this question for your husband or your children? Really ponder the areas where you might be most frustrated with your family and ask yourself what is the deeper situation.
I look forward to reading your comments and encourage you to share with the rest of the sisters reading this study, your thoughts on this subject.