What are your thoughts about “the poor”?
Everyone holds certain thoughts about people who are poor. Whether we think in terms of “groups” or specific “individuals”, our thoughts may not always be charitable.
When people think of “groups” who are poor, the thoughts may be more negative. Think of the city you live in. Think of the “wrong side of the tracks”. Think of the neighborhood with a lot of crime and poverty. Think of the dingy trailer park you pass on your way to work. How many thoughts did you just have that would be considered charitable? Compassionate?
These thoughts may vary greatly from the thoughts you have when thinking about 3rd world countries and the poverty seen in that venue. Individuals living without some of the basic necessities we take for granted tend to bring out a more compassionate response in us.
These country-sized groups are removed from our everyday lives. They aren’t “in our face” everyday.
Then we are faced with poverty on an individual basis. The pan-handler at the corner begging for your change. The homeless on the streets. These are the ones that tend to be “in our face”, the “inconvenient” ones that no one wants to see, especially not the businessmen and women on their way to work.
Compassion in degrees…
I see comments on Facebook and other websites that make me question if there is any good in humans at all. Some of the comments are so lacking in empathy and compassion, I wonder how these people relate to others they care about, if they are able to relate at all.
There are some people who are super compassionate and generous, but ONLY to people they personally know.
There are other people who are super compassionate and generous but ONLY to the poverty stricken outside of our country. Their views are that anyone in America who is poor is just lazy and/or milking the system.
There are others that grew up in poverty. They know first hand the struggles of either being homeless, or living on the “wrong side of the tracks” and withhold their compassion because of the thinking that, “if they got out of poverty, everyone should be able to.”
Christians and “the poor”…
I’m not going to quote a bunch of verses about how as Christians we are supposed to love our neighbor as ourselves. I’m not going to do an in-depth study here about everything the Bible has to say about money, the poor, poverty in this world, and how things of the flesh don’t matter, only heavenly things matter.
We know that this world will always have poor people. Not everyone can be rich on earth. It isn’t about equal shares for everyone.
What it boils down to is that as followers of Christ, He gave us two commandments. To love God with all our hearts, souls and minds and to love our neighbors as ourselves. It really is that simple.
Did Jesus give us the right to condemn the poor for bad decisions that may or may not have lead to their own poverty? NOPE.
The fact that our neighbors have a need should be enough reason for us to all pitch in and fill that need, whatever it may be. Whether our neighbors are down the street, across the tracks, on the other side of our country, or around the world…there are needs to be met. It isn’t our place to condemn a person for their past actions. Jesus didn’t condemn us, praise God for His mercy!
Whatever thoughts you may have about “the poor”, no matter how varied your thoughts are…condense them down to the simple truth that Jesus commanded. To love God with all our hearts, souls and minds and to love our neighbors as ourselves. It really is that simple.
Jesus loved the poor. He gave His life for us sinners, while we still sin! Should we love any less?