Are the Poor With Us?

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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“You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But you will not always have me.”

Mark 14:7

I want to pause one more day to reflect upon Mark 14:1-11. Yesterday I focused on the costly sacrifice of the woman who anointed Jesus with costly perfume. Today, I want to draw our attention to something Jesus said in response to this generous act.

As the woman anointed Jesus, some who observed her behavior were critical. Recognizing how expensive her perfume was (perhaps around $20,000 in today’s money), they objected: “It could have been sold for a year’s wages and the money given to the poor!” (14:5).

In response, Jesus told them to leave her alone. She had done “a good thing” to Jesus (14:6). The Greek of this phrase could also be translated “a beautiful thing” (kalon ergon). Then, addressing the issue of the poor, Jesus said, presumably to his disciples, “You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to” (14:7). Jesus may have been alluding to a passage in Deuteronomy 15 that calls the Israelites to care for the poor among them (15:4). This passage acknowledges that “[t]here will always be some in the land who are poor” (15:11).

But I wonder if Jesus intended more in Mark 14:7 than simply to acknowledge that the poor would be “hanging around” in need of help. Did he envision that his followers would always be in relationship with the poor? Notice that Jesus did not say, “There will always be poor people,” but rather, “You will always have the poor among you.” This suggests a community in which the poor are welcomed, not only as the recipients of charity, but as brothers and sisters.

Nothing in this passage suggests that giving to the poor isn’t important. In fact, Jesus assumed that his followers would provide tangible help to the poor, as well as being in relationship with them. But for most of us, it’s easier to give money to needy people who are far away than to be in relationship with them. Mark 14:7 challenges us, both as individuals and as church members, to open our hearts, our lives, and our homes to those lacking financial resources.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: When have you been in relationship with people who are poor? How has this affected you? How open is your Christian community to people who are not like the majority of members?

PRAYER: Thank you, dear Lord, for this reminder that the poor are to be among your people. I must confess that I find it easier to help from a distance than to open my life and my heart to those who are struggling. Forgive me, Lord, for my preference for my own safety and comfort.

Help me, and help my church, to be a place where the poor can be truly at home. In the context of genuine relationship with those who are financially strapped, may we share, not just our money, but also our lives.

Today I’m reminded to pray, not only for me and my church, but for your church throughout the world. May we be unified in spite of our many differences. May those who are rich and those who are poor be bound together in your love, so that we might share all that we have with each other in your name. Amen.


Helping Employees Fulfill Their Dreams

The TV show Undercover Boss gives employers a unique opportunity to spend a few days in their employees' shoes. CEOs and Presidents of large and successful companies go undercover and do the work of people who work on the front line every day. Through this experience, the employer often gets the chance to hear the dreams of their employees firsthand. Hearing the hopes and dreams those employees have for their families, their futures, and themselves often becomes the catalyst for the employer to help make those dreams come true.

Not every employer gets a chance to spend a day in an employee's shoes, but each employer/employee relationship is worthy of faithful and compassionate stewardship. Every interaction is an opportunity to lead from the soul. In this series, Helping Employees Fulfill Their Dreams, we'll explore what it means to lead from the soul in our relationships with our employees, even if we never make it on a television reality show.

Featured image above by Helgi Halldórsson. Used with Permission. Via Flickr.