One friend recently commented, “I wish we/I could feed and care for every human on the earth. Is that possible?”
Another responded, “Is that possible? Well, Jesus COMMANDS it. Therefore, yes, it is possible!! Whatever happened to, everything is possible through Christ?!”
Having examined this matter for forty years, I do not see the riches of the entire world being able to lift people out of poverty, as it’s not a physical condition. It’s a spiritual condition with physical consequences.
Absolutely, we can help! The conundrum, of course, involves figuring out what we can do that will help the most, have a lasting impact in ways that will improve their lives for life.
And yet, Jesus said, “The poor you will always have with you, a but you will not always have me.” Did he mean “so, ignore them?” Of course not. He did, however, attempt to refocus his disciples’ attention from worldly approaches to solve problems to the spiritual. Let’s examine this short passage in its entirety:
“While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, a but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”Matthew 26:6-13
The disciple’s thoughts were worldly: Sell the perfume, give the money to the poor.
But has giving money or even room and board to the poor EVER worked? Actually, no. It hasn’t. Look at the Desire Street Housing Project in New Orleans. The residents turned it into a ghetto and kept it that way despite countless serious efforts on the part of the city to keep it looking nice.
Poor people are poor for a reason, most notably in heart and in spirit. Their physical situation is a reflection of their spiritual condition.
The woman’s lavishing of perfume on Jesus reflected her rightful inner spiritual condition, one of admiration and love for Jesus as the Son of God. The wealth of the perfume is nothing compared to the wealth of a repentant heart bowing before Almighty God.
Prime Example: Our nation was indeed founded as a Christian nation. We were poor, but the British Crown was rich. While our volunteers were ok, the British troops were far better trained and equipped. It wasn’t through expense that we won. It was through Divine Providence conferred on those who surrendered their hearts to Almighty God through Jesus Christ his Son.
You cannot rescue the poor by giving them money, room, board, or clothes, for they remain poor in spirit and cannot sustain themselves.
You rescue the poor by giving them LIFE, the real life found only in Christ Jesus. Once they’re freed of their spiritual bondage, which prevents them from learning about and employing God’s principles and precepts, once they’re given emotional encouragement and support, only then will their inner hearts be changed, and as a result of their inner change, their thoughts, outlook, perceptions, decisions, and actions throughout life will be changed. It’s those changes, resulting in making better decisions, changing their actions, being more industrious and in the right ways, which wind up changing their lives for the better.
ALL relief from poverty is temporary. It’s why I give to Compassion International, which provides one square meal a day for children, plus schooling in both the 3R’s as well as in God’s word. They take a “three-cord” approach to ministry: Christ-centered, church-based and child-focused. Compassion teachers provide the children with far more than mere hope. They share Christ with these children, salvation from their sins, and a life of walking with God.
After all, who knows what’s better for His Children than God Almighty?