The “Sermon on the Mount”, as it is commonly referred to, is found in Matthew chapters 5-7 and is considered one of the greatest sermons ever preached. [As a side note, I believe it’s worth a regular read from every Christ-follower.] In the very center of this sermon (in chapter six), Jesus mentions three assumed practices of every Christ-follower. He refers to them as “religious acts” and says they are things every devoted Christ-follower does regularly: 

  • Pray
  • Fast
  • Give to the Poor 

It is interesting to me that of all the things Jesus could have included along with prayer and fasting (like the regular study of the Bible, the sharing of your faith story, walking humbly, etc.), He says “Give to the Poor.” Obviously, this is something very important to the heart of Jesus. Scripture is packed with admonition to care for the poor, needy, disenfranchised, forgotten, and hurting (Leviticus 19:9-10, Proverbs 31:8,9, Luke 4:17-19, to name a few). Jesus’ call to us is to “act” on behalf of the needy. One of the constant “religious acts” we, as Christ-followers, need to be engaged in is giving to the poor and needy.

Let me encourage us all to pray for obedience in “walking out our faith” in action (righteous acts) by giving regularly to the poor. Would you also pray for the Bethany Compassion Center? Our church just purchased a new building downtown to house our growing compassion ministries. Pray that the 22 ongoing compassion ministries — and soon to be 30 — will make a growing difference in the lives of precious people who feel down and out. Pray that all of us as individuals and collectively as a church can offer more people a hand up (and not just a hand out). Pray for the poor. Pray for people in need. Pray for those needing help and encouragement. And pray that your heart conforms to God’s— a heart that cares for and gives to the poor.