Why are the poor so important? When Jesus said, “…the poor will always be with you”, He wasn’t saying we should take them for granted, that they were somehow unimportant. As a matter of fact, I think he was saying something quite the opposite. I think He was raising our awareness to the poor around us. The disciples were upset the woman with the alabaster jar of perfume had poured it out on Jesus’ feet; they felt it should have been sold and the money given to the poor. You can read the story in St. Mark 14.
Jesus taught the disciples (and us) that giving to Him is the highest priority. By telling them He would not always be with them, He showed the immediacy of the importance of what the woman did in anointing his feet, since He would soon leave them. However, the poor are always with us and we must show them mercy and grace – in doing so we honor Jesus.
St. James has a way of getting in our face when he writes. His letter offers some of the most convicting scriptures; they convict us because in them we see our true selves. Though we don’t mean to, we often show partiality in how we treat others, especially the poor. And, James tells it to us straight out – partiality is sin.
If we’re honest with ourselves we will admit we often tend to gravitate to the wealthier people in a room, and away from those we deem poorer. I don’t mean that we do it on purpose. It is for the most part, an unconscious movement. But, what a sad commentary that is on our instincts.
James teaches us when we show such partiality we have judged people. And furthermore, when we make such judgments we judge ourselves. Instead of instinctively judging people on their perceived wealth or influence, or what we may gain from association with them, as followers of Jesus we should be servants of His mercy. Mercy always wins over judgment. If we hope to receive mercy, in both this world and the next (I do!), then we must be servants of Christ’s mercy.
There is perhaps no better place for us to practice such mercy than at church. Often people who visit churches decide not to return because they felt they were judged (or worse, completely over-looked). While it may sometimes be the case the visitor came in with a chip on his/her shoulder still, we need to show mercy, not judgment.
People’s lives really are at stake in how we, as servants of Christ, treat them. We have the privilege of seeing people through the eyes of Jesus, and to show His love to all humanity. Listen to singer/songwriter Brandon Heath’s message in his song “Give Me Your Eyes”.
Here’s a link to the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mhpLjPslbM
Evey time I hear this song I’m convicted of the partiality in how I see others. Listen to it with me today and ask Jesus to help you see others differently. This weekend, resolve to go to church (and wherever else you go) and see others as Jesus sees them, – with eyes of mercy. Mercy always wins.
Grace & Peace,
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”
Image credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nCInUHPcas