You might want to be careful before you mock the poor. I hear it around town. I heard it not long ago over lunch. “They are lazy; they don’t want to work; they aren’t smart.”
I have a new response when I hear that. My new response is: “Name some.” If you are so sure that they are lazy and don’t want to work, then surely you know some. So, I will wait while you give me names. I want names. Give me names and then we will go and see them and let them tell us their story, and then we can decide if they are lazy and don’t want to work.
Oh sure, there are some who fall into that category. I’ll bet for everyone who falls into that category, there an equal number of the rich who are lazy and don’t work. I know some and I can give you names.
Jesus said: “The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”
A man in our church, about twenty years ago used this verse to say that we don’t need to worry about the poor. He quoted this verse because he didn’t care for the poor and so to justify his lack of compassion, he quoted Jesus. Huh?
Perhaps Jesus is saying in this verse to the hypocritical Judas, who loved money and said that some expensive perfume could have been sold and given to the poor, “Judas don’t worry about it. There will be plenty of poor people left long after I’m gone.”
Some Christians have used this verse to say, “The poor are hopeless. We are always stuck with them, so why should we care?”
I have heard this verse used to mock the poor. The comedian says “I know a man who is so poor he owns twenty-two dogs.” “I know a man who is so poor he only has a sixty-inch flat screen.”
The writer of Proverbs 17 had heard the jokes too. And he said: “He who mocks the poor insults his maker.”
So, why don’t we just quit judging others? I love what the local ministries like the Soup Kitchen and Open Hands don’t do. They don’t judge.
When we Christians talk about the poor and the hungry around the world, it is so easy for us to say, “Yes, God loves all the people of the world, but he loves me just a little bit more.” After all, I’m not hungry. God provides for me and my family and that is a demonstration of his love for me and since others are hungry, that is a demonstration that God doesn’t love them as much.
Those who think like that need to keep their Bibles open on the coffee table. It is amazing to me how little we apparently read the Bible. I’ve joked about how folk, when they are having the preacher over for a visit will bring out the family Bible and place it on the coffee table. When the preacher comes over, people hide the beer and bring out the Bible.
Well, maybe you shouldn’t read it. Sometimes when we read it, we read things that we would just as soon not hear.
Do you know how one single thread can seem to weave its way through an entire garment? It’s a long thread. There is such a thread in the Bible. I call it the bread thread.
It begins in Exodus 22: “If you lend money to the poor, you shall not charge them interest.”
The bread thread can also be found in Deuteronomy 15: “Do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted toward your needy neighbor…open your hand to the poor.”
Then we come to Amos and the thread is heavy there. Amos declares: “I know how great are your sins; you who push aside the needy.”
In Matthew 19, Jesus declares to one would-be disciple: “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor…and then come and follow me.”
And the bread thread continues throughout the gospels, into James and concludes in 1 John: “How does God’s love abide in anyone who has this world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses to help?”
It never says “judge them.” In fact, it says, “He who mocks the poor insults his Maker.”
I’m waiting. Name some.
~ Pastor Steve