Romans 15:26 For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.
There were basically three categories of poor at the time Paul wrote this letter. The first were the “working poor”. These were people who held jobs which brought in just enough to live day by day. Then there were the underemployed, who only had some of the daily essentials for living. Then last were those in abject poverty who, without help from others, had nothing. This is the word used in this verse. It means to be in the continuous state of destitution and dependent on others for life’s essentials.
The poverty in the church at Jerusalem was not caused by laziness. It was brought on by a double persecution. The Jews and Romans both persecuted the church. Many of the Christian men and leadership of the church had been killed, imprisoned, or severely injured. This left a large number of widows and orphans in abject poverty, and there were more in this condition than the healthy families could support.
Christians were also kept out of the economy. The Jews would not give them jobs or buy their products. So the only jobs available to them were the ones no one else wanted. Everyone who could work did, but there was still not enough to go around.
The healthy men in the church and their families could have moved away and found better jobs elsewhere. But they stayed... They faced daily grueling sacrifice to meet the needs of those who could not provide for themselves. These were amazing men and women who Paul and Christians around the world were committed to help with their awesome task. Paul was carrying a large amount of money, collected by the churches in other regions, to be given to the Jerusalem church for the needs of the poor.
In today's world there are still some amazing people who give their lives to help the poor. Sometimes, I expect, they wonder if anyone cares or understands the heavy load they carry, and if we know how deeply they grieve when there are not enough resources to go around. Please know, if you are giving your life to the poor, that you have been prayed for today. Those workers who I know personally have been brought before my Lord by name. But I do not want to be as those who say, “be ye warmed and filled,” then walk away having done nothing to help. I and my church are not only committed to pray for you, but to give and go.