Jesus said, “You will always have the poor with you.”
Yes, Jesus said that. And people often quote it to me to try to take the wind out of my sails when I’m advocating to help those in poverty.
Their objection shows that they do not read all of the scripture that applies, but pick out a phrase or verse that meets their needs. Looking at what Jesus said in context, we see that Jesus said this when he was nearing his death and a woman was pouring very expensive perfume on him. And she was criticized because she had not sold the perfume and given the proceeds to the poor. To this criticism, Jesus replied, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful deed to Me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have Me” (Mark 14:3-7).
Because poverty was and continues to be with us, the opportunity for being generous is always there. Jesus was, in effect, saying, that there is plenty of opportunity to help the poor, but the opportunity for showing generosity to him was limited at that time and place. He was not saying that we shouldn’t worry about poverty since nothing can be done about it. To the contrary, Jesus was quoting a Biblical passage from the Old Testament. It says:
“If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be. For the poor you will always have with you in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land’” (Deut 15:7-11).
Be generous to Jesus. Lavish your praises upon him like pouring perfume over him. But, open your hand to the poor in your midst.
Our generosity starts with taking time to be in prayer to the One who can eliminate poverty and the One who is generous to us so that we can, in turn, be generous to others. Please be in prayer with our church this month as we appeal to God to eliminate poverty and to give us the resources and will to participate with Him in doing so.
NOTHING is too great for God. That’s why we start with prayer. Prayer may move us to take action. But PRAYER PRECEDES ACTION!
In Closing, I say: Lift High the Cross