Do you have a Hard Heart toward the Homeless?

At first, many of us will say “NO WAY!” We will think of all the things that we do that are just the opposite of hard heart. The question that begs to be answered is, “What does the text (the Bible) say a hard heart is?

First we need to know how the text defines “heart.” The Hebrew word for heart is ‏לֵב‎ lfiv (phonetically: labe) and it means interior, will, mind – in other words, your innermost being. It is used 600+ times in the Tanakh (Old Testament).

The physical location of the heart in the midst of the thorax leads to the interpretation of the heart as being the very center of a person or thing. Thus, the noun is used with the meaning “middle,” as in “the heart of the sea” (Exo. 15:8).

“Heart” often refers to one’s “inner self.”

It is here that:

Emotions such as:

are located in the heart.

One’s intellect is centered here as well, given that knowledge is tied to devotion to Yahweh and his laws (cf. Prov. 1:7).

It is Yahweh Who gives one a heart for understanding (Deut. 29:4).

Lfiv, therefore, can often be translated by the English concept of the “mind” as the center of intellectual activity.

A wise person is one with:

Inclinations are expressed through the heart (again, best translated as “mind”).

A person may be compelled to do an act by one’s heart (Exo. 35:29);

all find their locus (center of activity) in the heart;

as does:

A “double heart” means deceitfulness (Ps. 12:2).

* (Double Minded – the Book of Ya’akov or James comes to mind)

A defiant or stubborn attitude is expressed by in the imagery of a “hardened heart” (Exo. 7:13). An extension of this concept is a “heart of stone,” one which Yahweh will one day replace with a heart of flesh (Ezek. 11:19).

Yahweh “will write [the Law] upon their hearts” (Jer. 31:33).

Devotion is expressed as giving “all of the heart” (1 Kings 11:4).

Conversely, Yahweh was compelled to destroy humanity because every thought of their hearts was continually upon sin (Gen. 6:5).

Indeed, this response to the heart of humans “grieved [Yahweh] to the heart” (v. 6).

Repentance is characterized as “returning the heart” (1 Sam. 7:3).

A common phrase in Deuteronomy is “with all the heart and soul” (Deut. 4:29), which emphatically declares that we must give all to Yahweh.
Thoralf Gilbrant, ed., “3949,” in The Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary – Kaph-Mem, (Springfield, IL: World Library Press, Inc., 1998), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “3949”.

Normally, I put the text down on the page rather than give verses. To keep this post shorter, I just posted the Hebrew English Dictionary entry as it was without posting the actual verse so you could read it.

So, what is a hard-hearted person? In the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery by Ryken, Wilhoit and Longman, a hard-hearted person is described as the opposite of a “broken person”:

In some contexts a broken person is one who responds to the prompting of the Holy Spirit in repentance (Ps 51:17; Is 57:15).

A brokenhearted person is the opposite of the self-made, hardhearted person.

The fundamental difference between these two types of individuals is most evident in their reactions to being confronted with their own sins.

The key element is that the brokenhearted person repents.

That last phrase: “The key element is that the brokenhearted person repents.” brings King David to mind immediately when he was confronted with His sins by the prophet Nathan. What did King David do? He immediately repented saying: “I have sinned against Adonai!” King David would have been a broken-hearted person. King Saul on the other hand, well, you know how that story goes . . .

Even the talmidim (disciples) of Yeshua (Jesus) had hard hearts:

Mark 6:51-52 (CJB)
51  He got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased.

They were completely astounded,
52  for they did not understand about the loaves;

on the contrary, their hearts had been made stonelike.

The wife and I do a food and clothing ministry for the homeless. We call it the Open Hands Food Ministry based upon the following part of the text – the following command in the text – to not be hardhearted to the poor:

Deuteronomy 15:7-11 (CJB)
7  “If someone among you is needy, one of your brothers,

in any of your towns in your land which Adonai your God is giving you,

you are not to harden your heart or shut your hand from giving to your needy brother.

8  No, you must open your hand to him

and lend him enough to meet his need and enable him to obtain what he wants.

9  Guard yourself against allowing your heart

to entertain the mean-spirited thought that because the seventh year,

the year of sh’mittah is at hand,

you would be stingy toward your needy brother and not give him anything;

for then he may cry out to Adonai against you, and it will be your sin.

10  Rather, you must give to him;

and you are not to be grudging when you give to him.

If you do this, Adonai your God will bless you in all your work,

in everything you undertake —

11  for there will always be poor people in the land.

That is why I am giving you this order,

‘You must open your hand to your poor and needy brother in your land.’

David H Stern writes the following on hard-hearted in his Jewish New Testament Commentary:

Nowhere is it clearer than here and at 21:12-13 that the image of “gentle Jesus,

meek and mild” falls short of reality.

The repeated slashing litany, Woe to you hypocritical Torah-teachers (“scribes”; see 2:4N) and Pʾrushim! angers Jews, mystifies Gentiles and embarrasses Christians, who find Yeshua’s remarks intemperate, antisemitic, even “un-Christlike.”

But Yeshua, like all the prophets, spoke the words of God without fear or favor.

He comforted those who were open to him and made repeated invitation to those who opposed him; but when it had become evident that these particular Torah-teachers and Pʾrushim were hardhearted, closed-minded and interested only in confuting or trapping him, he seized the initiative, revealing his accusers for what they were.

Was he “unloving” toward them?

Love must sometimes be tough. Even less was he antisemitic:

his within-the-family correction was aimed at making these Jewish brothers of his live up to their high calling (and he partly succeeded; see Ac 15:5, 21:20, 23:6).

Acts 15:5 (CJB)
5  But some of those who had come to trust

were from the party of the P’rushim (Pharisees);

and they stood up and said,

“It is necessary to circumcise them

and direct them to observe the Torah of Moshe.”

Acts 21:20 (CJB)
20  On hearing it, they praised God;

but they also said to him,

“You see, brother, how many tens of thousands of believers

there are among the Judeans,

and they are all zealots for the Torah.

If Yeshua was unloving or antisemitic,

one must say the same of all the Jewish prophets from Moses to Malachi.

You see, maybe one of the hardest hearts of all is the modern day assemblies – the church and the shul! I know you are defensive and bristling at that statement, so I will exaggerate to unblur the lines for you.

I want you to imagine that Yeshua (Jesus) had not come 2000 years ago, and instead, came now – during this time. Would you know Him? Would He be welcome in your homes? In your churches?

Before you answer that, let me remind you that Yeshua was a homeless person.

Matthew 8:20 (CJB)
20  Yeshua said to him,

“The foxes have holes, and the birds flying about have nests,

but the Son of Man has no home of his own.”

Yeshua was a wandering nomad depending on the mercy and generosity of others. He also fed those that were hungry – many of them probably homeless themselves:

Jesus Feeds a Multitude

Matthew 15:32-39

Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the multitude, for they have been with me three days now, and have nothing to eat. I will not send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.”

“Where can we get enough bread in this wilderness to feed such a crowd?” said the disciples.

“How many loaves have you?” asked Jesus.

“Seven,” they replied, “and a few small fish.”

Then Jesus commanded the crowd to sit down on the ground, and took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks. And he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. And they all ate and were satisfied; and they gathered up seven baskets full of the broken pieces that were left. Those who ate numbered four thousand men, besides women and children. Then Jesus sent the crowds away, and got into the boat and went to the region of Magdala.

Relevant Scripture

MATTHEW 15:32-39

MARK 8:1-10
Thoralf Gilbrant, ed., Harmony of the Gospels: Concerning the Greatest Life Ever Lived, (Springfield, IL: World Library Press, Inc., 1986), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 173-175.

Yeshua followed His Father’s commands. He followed this command:

You must open your hand to your poor and needy brother in your land.’

And when He sent His talmidim (disciples) out in pairs, he told them NOT to take extra provisions – No food – no money – no begging bag:

Mark 6:7-11 (CJB)
7  Yeshua summoned the Twelve and started sending them out in pairs,

giving them authority over the unclean spirits.
8  He instructed them,

“Take nothing for your trip except a walking stick —

no bread, no pack, no money in your belt.

9  Wear shoes but not an extra shirt.
10  Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place;
11  and if the people of some place will not welcome you,

and they refuse to hear you,

then, as you leave, shake the dust off your feet as a warning to them.”

Earlier I wrote,

You see, maybe one of the hardest hearts of all is the modern day assemblies – the church!

I asked you earlier to imagine that,

I want you to imagine that Yeshua (Jesus) had not come 2000 years ago, and instead, came now – during this time.”

So let me ask you a serious question . . .

Would you offer YOUR home to some dirty, homeless, hungry duo of itinerant preachers that were telling you to repent of your sins? Or would you send them away? Call the cops on them? Hide your children from them?

Let me ask you a tougher one . . .

Would Yeshua (Jesus) go hungry?”

You see, Multi-million dollar assemblies (churches) that tell people giving to them, is giving to God have missed the mark (sinned). Sure, they may send a small token of what they take in to mission work overseas, but a majority of it goes to pastoral and staff salaries and to building mortgages (over $.75) of every dollar taken in on average!

the homeless situation in America testifies against the church every minute of every day!

If Yeshua came today, was homeless and living in the streets, few – if any – people in the church would know it . . . or even care!

The church willfully ignores the command to not be hard-hearted to the poor in the very way it runs it church. I am not saying all churches, I am saying churches in general – the majority. They ignore the command – the “order” from Adonai to:

‘You must open your hand to your poor and needy brother in your land.’

  • They do this when they build multi-million dollar worship buildings and multi-purpose rooms.
  • They do this when they spend $15,000 dollars on an in-ear monitoring system for the worship team and turn people away on Monday calling the church office looking for help!
  • They do this when they teach and instruct their staff to turn people away – to get them in touch with “help” agencies.

I have seen this very thing in most of the churches I have served at and most churches I have visited. It is utterly heart breaking to watch your pastor and the people you serve with raise “Holy hands” on Sunday and have “closed hands” to the poor in our land on Monday through Friday.

Sending a few dollars to the missions over seas does NOT negate the absolute apathy that is present in the modern day church towards the poor and homeless in our own land – in our midst!

Maybe, that is why Yeshua did what he did. What better way to emphasize the 2nd most important command “Love your neighbor as yourself” than to walk among those He would offer Salvation to and depend on them for mercy and generosity.

The other side of that coin is also a startling indictment against the church! You may or may not know the story, but you will now. Yeshua (Jesus) is teaching about “2 kinds of people” – He separates them into 2 different camps:

Sheep and Goats

Matthew 25:31-33 (CJB)
31  “When the Son of Man comes in his glory,

accompanied by all the angels,

he will sit on his glorious throne.

32  All the nations will be assembled before him,

and he will separate people one from another

as a shepherd separates sheep from goats.

33  The ‘sheep’ he will place at his right hand

and the ‘goats’ at his left.

Sheep on the right, goats on the left . . .

Matthew 25:34-40 (CJB)
34  “Then the King will say to those on his right,

‘Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take your inheritance,

the Kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world.

  • 35  For I was hungry and you gave me food,
  • I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
  • I was a stranger and you made me your guest,
  • 36  I needed clothes and you provided them,
  • I was sick and you took care of me,
  • I was in prison and you visited me.’

37  Then the people who have done what God wants will reply,

‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,

or thirsty and give you something to drink?
38  When did we see you a stranger and make you our guest,

or needing clothes and provide them?
39  When did we see you sick or in prison, and visit you?’
40  The King will say to them,

‘Yes! I tell you that whenever you did these things

for one of the least important of these brothers of mine,

you did them for me!’

These are the sheep! These are the people that have obeyed the command – the “order” from Adonai:

‘You must open your hand to your poor and needy brother in your land.’

So what about His left? What about the “goats?”

Matthew 25:41-45 (CJB)
41  “Then he will also speak to those on his left, saying,

‘Get away from me, you who are cursed!

Go off into the fire prepared for the Adversary and his angels!

  • 42  For I was hungry and you gave me no food,
  • thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,
  • 43  a stranger and you did not welcome me,
  • needing clothes and you did not give them to me,
  • sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’

44  Then they too will reply,

‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, thirsty, a stranger,

needing clothes, sick or in prison, and not take care of you?’
45  And he will answer them,

‘Yes! I tell you that whenever you refused to do it

for the least important of these people,

you refused to do it for me!’

You see, the people on His left – the goats – are the people that ignored the hungry and built multi-million dollar worship assemblies while doing so. The people of the left are the stingy people – the uncaring people – the people with a “closed hand” to the poor and needy among them. They are the churches that turn the poor away on a daily basis . . .

They are the people that REFUSED our Master – our King! The text says what ever they refuse to do for the poor and needy, they refused to do for Him! The following verse, regardless of whether they call themselves Christian, or Messianic, or Calvinist or not is startling . . .

Matthew 25:46 (CJB)
46  They will go off to eternal punishment,


those who have done what God wants will go to eternal life.”

No wiggle room here. Have you done what God wants? No ignoring the command and order will matter. You have either done it or you have not.

‘You must open your hand to your poor and needy brother in your land.’

hard heart homeless

If you theology does not teach this, your theology is WRONG! Throughout the text we are given warnings about being kind, showing mercy, loving our neighbor, helping the needy. The following verse is one that should make you pause for a moment and think about what it is saying – what it is implying . . .

Hebrews 13:1-2 (CJB)
1  Let brotherly friendship continue;
2  but don’t forget to be friendly to outsiders;

for in so doing, some people, without knowing it,

have entertained angels.

Or you have NOT entertained them . . . maybe your drove right past them and looked the other way!

When you pass that homeless man and do nothing . . .

When you turn that person in need away from your church or shul and tell them to get help somewhere else. . .

What if it is/was/will be a test by the Father Himself to see if you are a sheep or a goat – a test to see whether your church is among the sheep or the goats?!?

Which one would He say YOU are? Would you be on His left with the goats, or on His right counted among the sheep?

It is a serious question with serious ramifications – ETERNAL ramifications!

It was addressed quite eloquently in Ya’akov (James) when he asks that simple question:

What good does it do?”

James 2:14 (CJB)
14  What good is it, my brothers,

if someone claims to have faith

but has no actions to prove it?

Is such “faith” able to save him?

Maybe you are unfamiliar with the text here . . .

James 2:15-16 (CJB)
15  Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food,
16  and someone says to him,

Shalom! Keep warm and eat hearty!”

without giving him what he needs, what good does it do?

Let’s over-exaggerate it a bit to unblur the lines or any rationalizations (attempts to make the unreasonable sound reasonable) you may be making:

A guy calls or comes into your assembly – your church looking for help. Instead of helping him, you offer to pray for him that God gives him some warm clothes and some food . . .

Ya’akov (James) would have looked at you when you offered this and said, “Really?!?”

Maybe he would have even done a face-palm.

You see, regardless of the dogmas and theologies that are taught and accepted out there, trust in Yeshua (faith), without actions (works) will not save you – it is dead!

James 2:17 (CJB)
17  Thus, faith by itself, unaccompanied by actions, is dead.

Ya’akov (James) drives the point home further when he states the following:

James 2:20-22 (CJB)
20  But, foolish fellow,

do you want to be shown that such “faith” apart from actions is barren?
21  Wasn’t Avraham avinu declared righteous

because of actions when he offered up his son Yitz’chak on the altar?
22  You see that his faith worked with his actions;

by the actions the faith was made complete;

Again I ask, Sheep or Goat? A trust that is complete or incomplete?

The very word righteousness means alms giving to the poor! You can not be righteous and ignore the poor in your midst, period!

Ya’akov (James) drives the point home further with an emphatic declaration:

James 2:23 (CJB)
23  and the passage of the Tanakh was fulfilled which says,

“Avraham had faith in God,

and it was credited to his account as righteousness.”

He was even called God’s friend.

James 2:24 (CJB)
24  You see that a person is declared righteous

because of actions and

not because of faith alone.

How many churches today teach faith alone? Is it any wonder that actions seem optional or not even required to many in the church?

Let me ask you an even tougher question, Can you bear good fruit without actions?

Yeshua (Jesus) said, “Those who love me, obey my commands!” which also implies that those who do not obey His commands do not love Him . . .

Do you love Him – Do you really love Him? Do your actions match your words?

‘You must open your hand to your poor and needy brother in your land.’

That is His command . . .

Do you love Him?!?

I know this was a long, hard, and in your face teaching.

Be blessed my brothers and sisters and seek His Kingdom first above all else that you do!


About Even If Ministries

Dani'el 3:17-18 (CJB) 17 Your majesty, if our God, whom we serve, is able to save us, he will save us from the blazing hot furnace and from your power. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we want you to know, your majesty, that we will neither serve your gods nor worship the gold statue which you have set up.”
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