Today I want to bring to your attention several related
passages that are clearly directed to individuals or households,
not to the whole church.

“There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I
command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy
in your land” (Deut. 15:11).

“But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled,
the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you,
you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:13-14).

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless
is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself
from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27).

“Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily
food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’
but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?” (James 2:15-16).

We have managed to evade these clear teachings by delegating
the responsibility to the state, the church deacons’ fund, or charitable
organizations. Even if we give to these organizations, it is not the same as
inviting the poor home to dinner. Or we get involved at Thanksgiving or
Christmas and feel good about it, apparently not realizing that these people
would like to eat daily. Our response is that there are too many poor people.
Yes, but that is not an excuse for not taking care of one of the many. When the
state takes care of the poor, the money may be there, but the love is not.