Main Passage: Matthew 25:31-48
Secondary Passage: John 12:1-11
Focus Verses: John 12:8
"You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Someone on social media asked me a question recently, "If God loves everyone, why is it in Christian countries people are starving? How come?" Keep in mind the question was meant to start an argument; however, the question is a legitimate one. Certainly there are relief efforts from a number of organizations, including missions groups. Yet people are still starving. Why? While we stuff our faces and take our naps or watch football in our warm, cozy homes, there are people who live in shacks, with nearly nothing, their bellies bloated from starvation. Gaunt mothers hold their infants, wailing because their children died in their arms who starved to death. Why are there starving people when there is an abundance of food? Image by KasunChamara on Pixabay.
As a little girl, I remember sitting at the dinner table long after everyone else finished. I hated the taste and texture of what was on my plate. It literally made me gag. Mom said, "You know, there are starving children in China. Be grateful for the food on your plate." Grateful nothing! My little six year old self was ready to pack it up, plate and all, and send it to those poor starving kids in China! Where's the box? Are we grateful for what we have as the Halloween decorations are marked down on clearance and the Christmas hoopla gears up? I wonder because Thanksgiving seems to be crowded out. Anyway you look at the question, we must consider God's grand plan of a cosmic scope in human events.
There Will Always Be Starving People
We need to step back from our heart string pangs to understand a larger, overarching plan. Jesus said, "You will always have the poor, but you will not always have Me" (John 12:8). The people with Jesus were appalled at the woman anointing Jesus' feet with expensive perfume. It cost a fortune, probably important for her "business" which she kept in a calcite stone jar, probably decorative, yet common for the area. Of course, they thought she was there for other reasons, but Jesus cleared that confusion up. The person most indignant was the thief, Judas, who would later betray Jesus for 20 pieces of silver. What a greedy, uncaring lot. Were they any different than many people today? As long as there is greed, there will always be poor people, starving people among us. What will not always be with us is Jesus. When will it be too late? When will we no longer have Jesus with us?
Those in Need Don't Always Share Their Need
My first mother-in-law was married with five children. They lived in a small farming community. Her husband was a blacksmith and general repair man. The Amish brought their buggy wheels and farm implements in to be fixed because they knew he would do it right. It was a sporadic cottage business. Needless to say, there was not always enough money to pay the bills or buy food. As a faithful member of a local church, she helped pack food into boxes for the poor in town. One day, it dawned on her, "We are the poor." She never once thought to share her family's need. When she did, there was shock and disbelief from the people in her church. After all, she was a banker's daughter who inherited the family home, a grand old house. Not everyone in need looks like they are in need. The last recession put a lot of people into desperate situations they had never experienced. Sometimes, we just need to pay attention to what is happening to people around us and respond appropriately - even when they don't ask. Image by extremis on Pixabay.
Here is an odd thought to ponder: When you sit down to eat your meal, what about the person with celiac/gluten-sensitivity and/or food allergies? Just from my own experiences and the experiences of several people I know, when we travel or visit friends and relatives, we often go hungry. Why? We aren't poor. Because what you eat is literally poison to us and some of you have no clue nor desire to consider what we need. During the holidays, many people will be made sick or have to use an Epi-pen. Some may even die from anaphylaxis. We've learn to not ask for our needs to be met, but go hungry or pack our own food because some people don't care. I've taken my own food and guard it from cross-contamination at work, church, and family events. Not only that, there will be people walk away from food banks because no one cared to find out if anyone needed allergy-friendly food. Sometimes, when we make our need known, we are ridiculed. It seems easier stay silent now. We are the temporarily hungry, but we do it for our own safety. Do you care about us?
Those With Plenty Don't Always Share
It was a shock to me to learn how surplus food is rotting in warehouses or dumped to increase the price to an "acceptable" level. A picture of a truckload of delicious dark cherries being dumped by a farmer was passed around on Facebook recently. The caption told of surplus food being dumped to boost the prices. One comment said, "Send those cherries to a food bank, for Pete's sake!" Yes, why not send that food to the poor instead of wasting it? To understand why we have starving people, we have to look at what is happening in the background of food overages and food shortages across the globe.
Maybe parents should have their families help starving people instead of dumping food into the trash. Jesus praised the people who fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and met many needs. They didn't think about it, but responded out of compassion. Helping people around us should be second nature. Yet there was a group who did not respond. What was Jesus' response to them?
What Are You Doing?
We have to look at our hearts and ask, "What am I doing to help the starving people in other countries?" If we love Jesus, we should have compassion on those who have a need. I see people trying to make people in third world countries live like us. Is that what they really need? Do we understand what they really need? I'm not so sure we understand the difference between a need and a want. We put together totes of Thanksgiving food for the holidays, yet they have a need year around. That food in the Thanksgiving "basket" soothes our consciences for the moment. Do they have what they need to help support themselves? What are we doing to help them help themselves? Those are all questions we should be discussing in our churches and in our homes. Are we giving people what they need in Jesus' Name? Jesus said there will always be poor people with us for a reason.
Let me ask you this: What are YOU doing for the starving people around you?
May God bless you.