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Extend your hands to the needy.
When we read through Proverbs 31, much of the attributes of this ideal woman are related to her managing her home, her finances and caring for her family and servants. Proverbs 31:20, however, shows us that she is not just home centric, but loves her neighbor, as well.
She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. – Proverbs 31:20
God has created women to be compassionate. We are the nurturers.
In my recent post on Hands in the Bible, I shared about using our hands to hold on to things: our time, our money, our love. The Proverbs 31 woman is the opposite. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. She is not holding on tightly to what is rightfully hers.
Of course, her first priority is to ensure that her husband, children and home are cared for, but this wife of noble character also has a heart to serve others in need.
She may pray for others, but she is also diligent and takes action.
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
when it is in your power to act.
Do not say to your neighbor,
“Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”—
when you already have it with you. – Proverbs 3:27-28
She knows that loving others is in the action, not the words or thoughts.
What I love about this verse is the term “extend” or “stretch”
It shows that she is doing things that require action. She is not passive in extending her hands to the needy. She goes out of her way to volunteer and to serve others.
She is generous and “opens her arms to the poor” or less fortunate. Perhaps she is giving them food or monetary donations. Maybe she is coordinating a coat drive or toiletry drive.
She is extending her hand to help. Think about it. When you extend your hand to another, you are reaching out and lifting them up.
I believe that may be what this Proverbs 31 woman is doing is lifting others up, not just financially but in practical ways.
Maybe she is teaching them a skill or praying with them. Perhaps she is assisting them with food or an invite to pick them up for church.
She is sharing the fruits of her labor with those in need. Her charity does not end with a kind word or a promise to pray for others; it’s more than a passive activity. Her helping may involve physical giving – food, clothing, other goods or it may include giving spiritual food to those who are poor in spirit, spiritually poor and needy, and who hunger and thirst after righteousness.
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It’s easy to get so wrapped up in our own lives and problems that focus just on what needs to get accomplished for our homes and families. God commands us, however, to help others and to love our neighbors. There are dozens, maybe hundreds of verses which point to the importance of helping others.
Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed. –
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2
For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’ – Deuteronomy 15:11
- Think about your own family or circle of friends, perhaps your church community. Who comes to mind when you think of someone living out this verse? Is the woman who always provides a meal for the sick or shut-in? Or the one who tirelessly serves food at a local Soup Kitchen. Maybe it’s the one that collects coats for children in shelters or the one who fosters at-youth children in her home.
There are thousands of ways that we can live out this verse in our lives and how you can extend your hands to the needy. While some require giving of our own financial or physical resources, many won’t cost anything but time and heart.
I encourage you today to look at your own life and examine how you are extending your hands to the needy. Are you giving only when it is convenient, or do you truly have a heart to help those less fortunate? What is God asking of you? Have you prayed to Him to reveal to you how He would have you serve?
Here are some suggestions for ministering to others in your community:
- Participate in Operation Shoebox
- Participate in or spearhead a clothing drive
- Host a garage sale and donate the profits to a ministry or local charitable organization
- Instead of selling unused or unwanted items in your home, seek out donation centers where your no longer wanted items would be a blessing to someone in need
- Prepare a meal for an elderly person in your home, bring it to them and sit with them while they eat it. Your companionship may do more for their spirit than the food could do for their bodies.
- Volunteer at a shelter or Soup Kitchen
- Consider fostering a child in your home (in the county that our church resides, there is only ONE foster family, but many children in need).
- Prepare a few “Blessing Bags” to keep in your car. Give them to the homeless that you encounter. You have no idea how much that simple gesture will impact another.
- Get involved in a ministry with a mission to serve others.
- Host a small Bible study or even coffee time in your home
- In addition to your tithe, consider giving money to other ministries to support the needy. Church budgets are often tight and your extra few dollars could be a huge blessing to others. God will multiply your offering!
What other things can you do to share your love of Christ and extend your hands to the needy? Pray that God will shine a light where you can serve him and extend your hands to the needy.
Because of Him,