Jesus makes it clear we don’t get to choose our neighbor (Luke 10:25-37). But we can choose how to neighbor.
When Jesus began his ministry, he stood in the temple and proclaimed these words: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor (Luke 4:18). Jesus made it clear that empowering the poor was at the top of his list. We must care about those living in poverty because Jesus cared about those in poverty. If we don’t care for the poor, do we really even understand the gospel?
Charles Spurgeon identified three groups that miss the gospel when it comes to empowering the poor:
1. The Apathetic – The apathetic are not cruel and vicious people; they just don’t think about things that don’t affect them. But if one-half of our children didn’t live past their 8th birthday, or were dying from preventable diseases, we would be all out focused on fixing the problem. We have a gaping hole in the way we see the world. It’s not that we don’t care about the poor, we just don’t know about the poor.
2. The Self-Indulgent – The self-indulgent may care but they love personal comforts too much to actually sacrifice anything for anyone else. We don’t typically think of ourselves as being rich. We think of people who have far more than we do but when most people around the world think of the “rich” they picture us. But if we have clean water, sufficient food, clothes, a roof over our head, access to medicine and the ability to read a book we are incredibly wealthy relative to billions of people in the world.
3. The Procrastinators – The procrastinators know they are supposed to do good to the poor, but they never really do anything about it. If the love of God is in our hearts, then it is not possible for us to ignore the poor in the world. The gospel compels us to action on behalf of the poor.
I don’t know about you, but I’m guilty – of being apathetic, self-indulgent, and procrastinating. Where do you struggle most? Where can we jump out of those ruts today and empower the poor?
But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. –1 John 3:17-18