God has always cared about those in poverty. He challenged the Israelites to not take advantage of the widow and orphan (Ex. 22:22). Later, God made a law that the Israelites were not to harvest grain to the very edges of their field, or to pick up every piece of dropped grain. Instead, they were to leave some for the poor (Lev. 23:22). God explains that his concern for the poor should be shared by his followers in the book of Proverbs. He says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Pr. 31:8-9).
This value of caring for the poor is carried into the New Testament. Jesus told a rich young man if he wanted to be perfect he needed to sell his possessions and give to the poor (Matt. 19:21). Jesus also told a parable connecting the care of those in greatest need with serving Jesus himself. He said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matt. 25:40).