BY Femi Awodele
John 12: The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have Me.” (See Duet. 15: 11 as well).
TO be poor is to lack, poverty has always been around and it will always be around, Moses wrote about this in Duet. 15 and Jesus repeated it (recorded by Matthew, Mark and John).
There are also different types of poverty – spiritual poverty (when a person lack relationship and/or intimacy with God through Christ and the Holy Spirit). Character poverty (when a person lacks the value system that comes from intimacy with God and leading of His Spirit). Financial poverty – (when a person lack resources to enable physical survival and or comfort – a good standard of living).
In the days (culture) of OT writing, a man was the sole source of survival for the family, women where “technically” not allowed to do jobs that sustains the home (some strong women break the rules), so the death of a husband – is typically a poverty sentence for the widow and the children left behind.
Although written all over the book of Deuteronomy and Leviticus, the classic example of how to care of the poor is the story of Ruth and Boaz in the book of Ruth.
The Law of Moses gave specifications for the “rich” on how to take care of the (financially) poor, they are not to indulge them, rather they are to leave any harvest that falls on the ground, and for those with larger farms – they are to leave some portion of the land un-harvested. This was how Ruth, through her mother-in-laws instruction went to harvest left-over (land) on Boaz’s farm.
In the NT, we see a similar pattern, in his letter to the church in Galatia, Paul wrote about his first meeting with the Jerusalem Council folks (the apostles – Peter and John) when he gave them reports of his first mission trip – they were happy for him, the only thing they encouraged him was that he remembers the poor.
Spiritual poverty, Character poverty and financial poverty will always be among us (recorded verbatim in both OT and NT). We are also aware that we’ve all been created for a purpose, some of us our purpose is addressing spiritual poverty more, some our purpose is to address character poverty and for some we are to address financial poverty – in all three cases, it is NOT our efforts, but God bringing increase through us.
God has called us primarily to one of those poverties, but not excluding the other ones, I believe my passion is encouraging godly character (especially among those who profess Christ) – yet my wife and I give a substantial portion of our income to organizations that meet needs of those who are financially poor. I have many friends who work with homeless etc. – I’ve even sat on the board of a Mission House – but it’s just not my thing.
BGEA as an organization that do a lot of things to help those who are financially poor (especially through Samaritan Purse after Franklin took over), but BGEA’s primary purpose is spiritual poverty (evangelism).
In both the OT and NT, the onus and burden was never on government or any structured organization (they are to carry our justice on God’s behalf), taking care of the poor was left to the individual, this is ONE WAY, God desires worship and surrender from us – GIVING (really Him through us). I will encourage every reader to do a study of the “Law of Sowing and Reaping” and “Principle of Giving” – away from modern charismatic interpretations.
My family is not poor, neither are we rich – we however do have our needs met, both in the time of plenty and in the time of needs. We have always separated our SOURCE from the RESOURCE He chooses to use, and we’ve also taken the role of a good education or vocation into play (although God is sovereign and can bypass human wisdom).
I have come to believe (50+ years of life, 17+ years of full itinerant ministry, and close to 50 countries visited for the gospel) that being Spiritually POOR is the worse, then lacking Godly Character is bad, but that lacking finances is temporal – being rich in Character and Spiritually makes you rich (even without a lot of finances) and Jesus back me up – see Luke 16: 11 (true riches).
Some of you are called PRIMARILY to meet the need of the financially poor, please note that it is not your ability (acumen, network, etc.) that have produced the wealth, but the God who has called you for that purpose before your birth.
If you are a Christian Ministry – your FIRST purpose is NOT the financially poor BUT the spiritually poor, preaching the Good News of Christ and reconciling humans back to their heavenly Father [God] – read Galatians 2: 1-10 (it is highly recommended however – as an addendum).
Instead of complaining about how “churches” or “denomination” or “government” are not taking care of the poor – ASK YOURSELF, what is God asking ME to do? Please note that taking care of the financially poor, does not mean you have excess (what is in your hand?)
Femi Awodele is the Executive Director of Christian Couples Fellowship International, Inc., a marriage ministry with chapters worldwide based in Omaha, Nebraska, in the United States
-The opinions and views expressed in this article are solely those of the writer/author, and do not necessarily represent or reflect the editorial policy of Headline News Nigeria.