September 30, 2013

Devotion for the Week...

The last assignment for Compassion International's Blog Month asks bloggers to respond to one of two prompts. I have chosen the following quote:

"Poverty is not necessarily an issue to solve; it is an opportunity to serve. As we go through each day, our heart's cry should be, Lord, where would you have me give, serve, and invest myself to bring hope to the poor?"
~Orphan Justice author, Johnny Carr

The first thing I thought of when I read this was Jesus saying, "The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them anytime you want" (Mark 14:7). To put this into context, a woman had just poured very expensive perfume over Jesus' feet, which prompted Judas to rebuke her, saying it was a waste and the perfume should have been sold and the money given to the poor. Jesus corrects him, saying the poor can be helped any time, but this woman has done this to prepare Him for His burial (see Mark 14: 1-9). So, Jesus tells us point blank that the issue of poverty will never end. The poor will always be with us.

What should our response be to this issue? It can often seem so overwhelming that we don't even know where to begin. After all, I can't help everyone.Neither can you.

What does the Bible teach on this issue?

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" (James 1:27)

God is described as "a father to the fatherless, a defender of widows" (Psalm 68:5).

"When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God" (Leviticus 19:9-10).

God clearly cares about helping the poor. This is even more apparent in Jesus' discussion of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25:31-46. The people will be separated, He says, "as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats" (Matthew 25:32), with the sheep on His right and the goats on His left.

"Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'" (vv. 34-36). When asked when they did these things, Jesus answers, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." (v. 40)

To those on His left, He will say, "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." (v. 41) and "I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me" (v. 45)

Jesus identifies Himself with the poor. He says that our response to those in need is actually our response to Him. This is a sobering thought. Do we serve the poor, the needy and the lonely the way we would treat Jesus Himself if we knew of a need in His life?

No, I can't help everyone on my own. You can't. Poverty is just too big an issue. But Jesus doesn't say the rewards will go to those who help everyone. He commends those who have helped even "one of the least of these brothers of mine." 

Surely we can help one.

And then, when we find that helping one is actually not so hard, perhaps we can help another, and then maybe even another.

Would you like to sponsor a child through Compassion as the one you help today? Click here to make a difference for a child and his or her family.


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