It’s been two weeks since I landed in Zambia and I’m still not sure the reality of me being here for the next 6 months has really sunk in yet. I am actually living in Africa! What a whirlwind the last two months have been. More thoughts on this journey and transition to come, but first I wanted to share what God’s been teaching me lately.
“If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord –
and He will repay you!”
The other day, my new friend/neighbor asked me to do a favor for her and pick up a pack of chicken for her from the store while I was there. She said she’d repay me the next day. I hesitated at first because I really don’t know her well and foreigners are often taken advantage of because of their naivety to the culture, but I decided to just help her out. My mom always taught me to give without expecting to be repaid, and a pack of chicken is really not that expensive anyway, ha!
Anyway, she paid me back the next day and there was no problem. But after reading this verse, I realized how this concept of lending and being repaid rests a lot on whether or not you trust the person involved in the transaction! You can lend to someone whom you trust because you know that they will pay you back. (Or you can make them sign a binding agreement and put your trust in the agreement instead.) It’s easy to sacrifice for someone you love and care about because you know they won’t cheat you or take advantage of you…and if you really love the person, you are even able to give sacrificially without expecting or even wanting a return! You forfeit the expectation to be repaid and see the act of lending as a gift to the person, which frees you up to lend and give joyfully!
I never thought that we as people could lend anything to God until I read this verse. Why would we have to lend to God if He owns everything in the universe?? Why would God need a favor from us?? He’s God!
The Greek word for “Christian” means “little Christ” – someone seeking to follow and imitate Christ in their own life. Before Jesus left the earth, He charged His followers to go out into the world to do the things that He did. He told them that they would do even greater things than He did and He taught them that anything they did for the least of those in the community would be as if they did it for Him.
When Christ was on earth, He loved and cared for people, especially the least of these. It makes sense that He would want His followers to continue doing that even after He left the earth. Though Jesus is not physically on the earth now, many of His followers are, and it is our charge and responsibility to go out into the world to represent Him and love the least of these on His behalf. This is a tangible way that we can lend to God!
We can confidently lend our time, love, and resources to people around us on behalf of God and rest in the promise that He will repay us, because He is a trustworthy God who keeps His word. Do we really believe this??
I think of Mother Teresa and how she sacrificially gave of her time, energy, resources, and life to serve and love the least of those in India. Who was paying her for her service? Who was compensating her for her time? Many of the children she helped could not even smile or make eye contact with her, let alone utter a “Thank you.”
“I see Jesus in every human being.
I say to myself, this is hungry Jesus, I must feed him.
This is sick Jesus. This one has leprosy or gangrene;
I must wash him and tend to him.
I serve because I love Jesus.”
Being in Zambia for the past two weeks has already been challenging my faith. Virtually every single person I’ve met or interacted with here so far has lost one or both of their parents. People younger than me, people my age, people older than me. Like seriously, I think I’ve met one person who still has both of their parents. ONE!
Zambia has one of the highest per capita orphan rates in the world, and over 75% of the population lives below the international poverty line of $1.25/day. It seems like there are more opportunities to “defend the weak and the fatherless [and] uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed” (Psalm 82:3) here.
Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). He gave up His life for ours, so our lives aren’t even ours to begin with. The fact that we could lend our lives for His service and that He even promises to repay us for this service is an extension of His grace that truly does not make sense. This is amazing grace.