Monday, July 18, 2016

JULY 18 "KIND TO THE POOR"

     In our reading today we are admonished by God to be "kind to the poor". I believe Christians today are confused on this whole issue of "the poor". Perhaps it stems from Jesus condoning the breaking of the alabaster jar on himself and when the disciples criticize this act and say, "what a waste, the bottle of perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor", Jesus rebukes them and says, "the poor you will always have with you, what she has done is a good thing".  We almost see a disregard for the poor being reflected in Jesus' statement. Sometimes the Church can project an anti-sympathy for the poor, "the poor are like that because they refuse to serve God, or they deserve it or they are just lazy people that want to collect welfare, they don't want to work....blah...blah..." and what this can create in Christians is a lack of empathy for the poor. Christians may be insensitive to the needs of the poor and we are wrong in trying to justify are callousness thru Jesus. Jesus is not showing a disregard for the poor, nobody cared more about the poor than Jesus, He gave his life to the poor. The poor we will always have amongst us, is for sure, even within God's house. We are apt to think that a Christian should have money and always be prosperous, but the poor we will always have amongst us. Even in the Old Testament, God had different sacrificial provisions for the poor amongst the Israelites. Were these not "God's Children", were these not Jews..., yet not all were prosperous. Some God required to sacrifice a bull, a ram,  a sheep, others simply a pigeon or dove because God knew, that's all they could afford. Not all who are poor are lazy and trying to exploit the system. God will one day judge us for our stinginess and ignoring the needs of the poor amongst us.  "Amongst us" is the key word. It may seem like a noble act to give money to some poor man on the street that you do not know and somehow think that that will glorify God, but I don't believe this is what scripture teaches. Do we ignore the needs of the poor outside the church? No not necessarily, but scripture does command us to give preference to those amongst us. Who are the poor "in the church"? Are they suffering unduly?  Is their financial hardship really more than God would have them to bear? Is the church responding properly to the poor amongst them or are we spending "our blessings" all on ourselves and dismissing their needs as "their own fault?".   God's promise that we have read today is 17 Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done".  Nobody understands human nature more than God, you don't have to try to convince God that some are poor because of their own doing, but yet God acknowledges this is not the case with all and God is watching to see what we do with the resources that come into the hands of those of us that "are not poor". Will you be found a worthy steward? "Well I give to my church, I give to this and that", you may say. Well that is great, but that is "not enough" we still must set aside a portion for the poor amongst us, whenever it is possible. God knows whether or not we have done our best, or if we have at least responded when prompted to give, to bless or to let go. Can you say with a clear conscience that you have helped, when you could, the poor amongst you?