If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord – and he will repay you!
When is the last time you loaned God some money? It seems preposterous, doesn’t it? Everything we have comes from God so it makes no sense that we could loan Him anything because He already owns it all (Ps. 51:12). And then imagine God being in your debt. The Creator of the Universe has given you an I.O.U.? Good luck with that idea (Rom. 11:35). So…what in the world is this passage talking about?
Scripture makes it clear over and over again that God cares deeply about the poor (Ps. 9:18) and expects us to do the same (Pr. 14:31). When you give your time, money or energy to a poor person, you can’t invest those things into your own life, which increases your dependence on God to provide for you. God loves to be trusted, of course, and His blessings always flow through our faith in Him.
Pastor John Piper approaches this Proverb this way:
“If being kind to the poor is an act of trusting God to take care of us, there is a sense in which God becomes a debtor. He is a debtor to his own glory. If I trust him and reckon his word and wisdom and love worthy to be counted on, then God is honor-bound, glory-bound, to uphold the worth of his word and wisdom and love. Trust is the one thing that can put God in debt. The reason trust can do this is that it is the one human attitude that looks away from our sufficiency to God’s sufficiency. When God’s sufficiency is at stake, he will prevail.
So while we don’t really lend God anything in being kind to the poor, we do put ourselves in a situation where God must bless us — that is, if we have done our kindness out of reliance on the mercy of God to take care of us.”