Our Devotional this week is brought to us by Mr. Ethan Mitra, a proud graduate of the University of Mary Hardin-Bayor and the most widely-read Research Assistant I have ever had. Thanks Ethan!
“There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be open handed towards your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.” Deuteronomy 15:11
America is a rich country, so it is easy to isolate ourselves from poor people. We have gated communities, offices with security service, locked doors, and alarm systems. But even as we try to avoid the poor, they are part of our daily lives. They pick and prepare the food we eat and, if we look, they are easy to spot on street corners and underpasses. In our rich country, poverty is a serious issue. We might prefer to dismiss most of this poverty as self-inflicted but even if we found it were so, would that change God’s command to care for the poor?
Sadly, the fact that the poor are always with us compounds our failure. We don’t occasionally fail to care for the poor. We fail at it every day! Recently I missed an opportunity. I was in a downtown public library trying to study for an upcoming exam. A group of loud and smelly homeless people posted up next to me and I overheard their problems.
A member of their group had been jailed and they were trying to figure out how best to help her. The phrase PR bond came up multiple times but it was clear no one in the group knew what to do, who to call, or how to research what could help their friend. I had a computer in front of me and thirty minutes to spare but I didn’t even offer assistance. Days later I thought of the passage, “I was in prison and you visited me” (see Matthew 25:36), and I was ashamed. Not only had I not visited the poor, jailed woman, I didn’t lift a finger to assist those who wanted to help her.
The good news is that my recent failure to care for the poor will not be my last opportunity. The poor being with us always means there will be a next time to help. My prayer is that we as Christians can learn to love the poor as God commands and as Jesus demonstrated. May it begin with me, Lord.