By Russ Ramsey
Jesus said that the poor will always be among us (Mark 14:7). This means our call to make room for the poor will never expire. But as soon as we say we need to make room for the poor in our lives, we’re tempted to start drawing lines that aim to define what qualifies someone as “poor.” Do we mean a homeless person? A refugee? Someone who earns less than we do?
Wealth is a relative concept. Compared to some, I don’t have very much. Compared to others (to most of the people in this world, actually), I am a man of tremendous riches. I can turn on a faucet and drink the water that comes out. I can drive a mile or so from the home I was approved to purchase, in a car that I own, to a grocery store where I can fill my cart with all sorts of foods that have been prepared for me. Anyone who can do these things is, by the world’s standards, wealthy.
Still, sometimes I drive past houses and cars that are nicer than mine, and I wonder what it would be like to be that rich. Wealth and poverty can make people feel worlds apart from one another. But we’re really not. In God’s economy, the wealthy are much more like the poor than they are different. No one can take anything from this life into the next, and God does not show favoritism based on how much or how little a person owns. In this sense, we are all poor in spirit.
“The poor” are those who lack sufficient resources to live comfortably by the standards of their own environment. When Jesus said that we will always have the poor with us, He was referring to this world only. Paul says the same thing about material wealth. The material things we possess belong only to this life, so we dare not set our hopes on them (1 Timothy 6:17–19). Instead, we are called to make room for the poor in our lives because, materially speaking, nothing can be taken beyond the limits of this life. No one really owns anything.
So, Paul tells the wealthy not to hoard their resources, but rather to use them to do good. In fact, one of the ways we do can do good is by making room for the poor at our tables, in our budgets, and on our calendars. Scripture calls the wealthy to be generous and open-handed, ready to share. In other words, we are to use our resources as people who have the next life in view—the eternal life into which we will carry nothing except for the grace and name of Christ.
Written by Russ Ramsey
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11 thoughts on "Making Room for the Poor"
This readings really stuck with me for several reasons. First, not everyone will have equal income here on Earth, but not to be judged by what they have or lack there of. Instead, viewed as to how they use their own material items for good on earth.
No matter how much money you have, we all can be equally as rich or poor in spirit. This pushes me to re-establish my relationship with Jesus and try to live a life more focused on him. It’s easy to get caught in material things, and these things can easily sway our outlook on life. (When times are hard and money is tight, the world we live in has trained us to stress and worry…) Rather, we should keep a positive outlook and be thankful for what we do have. Key being our faith that God knows exactly what He is doing.
On a separate note, I read a certain verse that struck home for me. James 2:13 “For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”
Earlier in this passage it explains that one who says “don’t commit murder” but “commits adultery” his or herself, should be judged to the full extent.
Having mercy on others is more important than judging others. You are crippling yourself anytime you judge someone else. I’ve heard the phrase, “don’t judge me when you choose to sin differently.” (Or something to that idea). Again, our world is so full of hate and judgement, it’s important to think before you speak and in cases hold your tongue when you speak a foul towards/against another.
Sometimes it feels difficult to not judge some of the less fortunate in their environment. I struggled with this as a restaurant owners son who managed and opened the shop during some summer days. We would have repeat complaints from some of the beggars, but I was always raised to help those in need. I would try to help, but it always ended up feeling like I was being taken advantage of after awhile, but in any case they were still less fortunate so helping was in my nature. I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes, and I pray they find something they need. I still see them sometimes as a grown man though.
It’s easy to have a how much can we get mentality when in reality we should be saying how much can we give. We assume that or greatest joy will be accumulating and horsing, but really, we will glean the most joy in this world when we are giving to others who need it. Generosity isn’t Gods way of taking from us and making us miserable. It’s his way of giving us the intense joy of someone who’s heart is free from the bondage of greed.
I think it’s all summed up into what you put your hope in. Do you trust and have faith in God as your provider? Or do you think that money is your provider?
No, money is not your provider, and neither is your job – it is God. I know that God makes people rich, so I would never condemn a rich man, but that means that I shouldn’t favor that man either. Instead, I should stand in awe of the One who provides so abundantly.
If we had this view, and had this faith in God, it would be a lot easier to be generous. It would be a lot easier to be content, and to help the poor.
Father, make yourself known in my heart and in the hearts of the men reading this devotional. Make it crystal clear that You are the Provider, and help us to love with our actions, in deed and truth. You’re awesome, Amen
I love in this section how he states what the definition of poor technically is (someone who doesn’t have the necessary resources to live comfortably in their environment). Often times we like to label people in third world countries, the homeless, and those living in our lowest socioeconomic classes here in America as “poor” – but what about those that make more than the poorest socioeconomic class, but still can’t live comfortably? Do we draw a line with where we think “poor” should be or do we go with the real definition and strive to be Jesus to them?
I guess what I take from this is that we do not own our money. We are but stewards of what God has given us. So live this life like you own nothing and are managing God’s money (which you are).
Pray before spending to ensure what you are spending your money on is right in the eyes of God.
Today’s devotion is a very important lesson to be reminded of, especially living in such a fragmented city of economic inequality like NYC. Wealth and poverty exist side by side, and everyone is striving to get ahead and earn more. Riches & need are both in our face.
Lord, you give and you take away. Thank you for what you have blessed me with and for those things you have not given to me. Please help me to be content in every stage of life you have me in, guide my ambition for bettering my family and improving our financial situation in a healthy & God fearing way, open my heart to those in need, and show me when & who you’d have me to bless and help out. May my thoughts, words, and deeds be pleasing to you.
We’ll always have the poor. And how we respond to them should mark our lives as followers. As it starts getting cold what will I do? What will my family do? What are we willing to sacrifice?
Day 3: the gift of money from the lord is a blessing. We should be stewards, along all the other gifts we have been given, and be generous with our money. Sure it doesn’t seem as if we are so wealthy, but we have a lot, and with the lord, we have even more. Let’s be generous today with our time, money, or prayers.
I live by this… once I was more vain, but now I yearn to be as giving as I can… not only for the feeling I get to give, but also to support His laws.
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