Jesus could say offensive things. When Judas criticized the woman who poured ointment on Him because the ointment could have been sold and given to the poor, Jesus said:
“For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always” (Matthew 26:11).
Jesus is not saying we shouldn’t help the poor; He’s specifically telling this group that this expensive act of worship was well done. She’s taking advantage of her opportunity while Jesus is still alive to show Him worship. She, Judas, and the rest of them can spend the rest of their lives helping the poor! They won’t run out of opportunities.
This is like people who can’t make it to church on Sunday for an hour because they have to clean the house. You can spare an hour for church; you can only go to it when it’s time for it. You have many other hours in the week to clean the house; the dirt aint going anywhere.
People aren’t as offended by the serve me while I’m here part as much as His assumption that there will always be poor people.
Everyone and their mother knows how to solve poverty. Republicans and Democrats both have their ideas. Commies and Socialists and all other political groups think if they were in charge the world would be bliss.
It’s not true.
This isn’t some cynical statement by Jesus, nor an off the cuff remark. Jesus is actually quoting the Old Testament.
“For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land” (Deuteronomy 15:11).
Now think about what is said here. He’s talking about the Promised Land; the land flowing with milk and honey. The land where God’s law would reign as people followed the Lord’s guidance.
This is the best land in the world with the best governor over it—God Himself! And even here, in this blessed land under God’s authority, there will always be poor people.
If God Himself can’t eliminate poverty in the best land in this world, you think your political party can do it?
(Notice that the verse still says to help the poor. Saying that there will always be poor people doesn’t mean helping them is pointless.)
The Bible is very consistent on this issue. The Bible was written over thousands of years and throughout all those years there are commands to help the poor.
For thousands of years of writing the Bible, the poor are still there. There will always be poor people.
This isn’t a spiritual statement or prophecy; it’s a simple statement of truth. It’s an observation of how life works.
In statistics there’s a thing called a bell curve. A bell curve is the way things get distributed. The Middle Class will always be huge. There will always be a smaller group of poor and rich. It’s just the way stuff gets distributed in this world.
People are poor for many reasons. Some choose to be so—vows of poverty, disinterest in work or wanting more stuff, being a pastor with three kids, etc. Some are forced into it—physical or mental issues, poor family environment, lack of escape, corrupt governments, and so on.
There will always be poor people as long as there are people on this earth.
There is a new earth coming, which will be free from the Curse and from sin, where God’s righteousness will reign supreme. At that point, and not until then, will poverty be eliminated.
Living in a fallen world has consequences. I appreciate the desire people have to end poverty, but frequently the well-meaning intentions make the problem worse. It also gives people the idea that they don’t have to actually help the poor because, “I pay taxes and I vote for the people who will help them.”
Our job as believers is to give to those who ask of us, to be a Good Samaritan, looking for opportunities to share the love of God, not in kind thoughts and promises of prayer, but in actual prayer and giving.
Stop worrying about political wrangles over the issue and waiting for Your Guys to get in there and solve it all. You personally go help someone. That is what you’ll be held accountable for.
“But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him” (1 John 3:17).