How does this change everything? In reality it makes all of our so-called benevolence pale in comparison to what God did in becoming a man, namely Jesus Christ. Our world is caught up in the benevolence attitude and that does help those who are in need, but that benevolence is a weak effort for what God calls each believer to do in taking up our own cross. Paul alludes to the attitude of Christ in Philippians 2:7 where he says, “but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” So the question that might come out of this statement would be “How wealthy was Christ?” “Was He a rich man, middle class, or poor? For someone who was willing to give His life we might conclude that Jesus was not very wealthy in monetary terms. So if Jesus was to react to our world condition today how would he help those in need? Of course, we know He already reacted to the condition of the world today by dying on the cross and defeating death, hell, and the grave and giving salvation to “ALL” who come to him in faith. But in real life terms, from what base would He derive help from? If Jesus had a lot of money, how much would he give away? All of it? Then He would be living in poverty Himself. Our common sense would cause us to say, “Oh He wouldn’t do that. That wouldn’t be very wise use of the money He had.” If He were middle class like most Americans, what would he do to help the poor?” Jesus would probably give up all creature comforts and use that money to help as many poor people as possible. If Jesus was poor, how could He help get support for those who are needy? He would probably do without some of His meals to give to those who had no food. I know this is a stretch for some of you to think about, but it could possibly be an important question for an affluent life to ask if they know Jesus and want to minister as He would.
Our country makes an effort to reach those who are needy and welcome them into our country. The poem written by Emma Lazarus was written for a fundraising benefit for the Statue of Liberty in 1883. Her basis for the words came out of her Jewish Heritage and from her work on Ward’s Island, where she helped Jewish refugees who had been detained by immigration authorities. She knew what she was writing about first hand and her heart to care and help other Jews came through the famous words that were later added and inscribed on a plaque at the base of the statue in 1903. The full poem was entitled The New Colossus and the words are as follows: Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, with conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand a mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles, from her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command the air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp! cries she with silent lips. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-toss to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Incredible words. So incredible some people think it is a Bible verse. NOT!!
Jesus, in speaking about the judgment in Matthew 25:31-46 first of all states in verse 31 “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. I am one of the sheep, not because I did anything, but because HE did it all for me to be a sheep. There is nothing I can do to be more “saved”, but that salvation generates a love for those that Jesus loves. One monetary position will not be higher than the other. Rich people aren’t the more “blessed” people in this judgment. The defining characteristic that is necessary is the belief in Jesus Christ and accepting Him by faith and Him changing your life. To make this grace more understandable we put special things added to it. Special things like; God blessed me to make a lot of money, God blessed me to have a benevolent heart, or God blessed me to use talents for Him. We are only blessed because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. The penalty for our sin condition has been paid in full. Not in part by Jesus and the other part by us. It is ALL about Jesus, and Him alone. Pride causes me to think that I have arrived when I start doing Jesus looking things. When in reality he is starting to come through my life. It is not that me getting in the word, praying a lot, or doing selfless things makes me more like Jesus. Jesus coming through in my life is the reason I do all of those things. Once again, all about HIM!! In verses 34 He helps us to see that those who are blessed of God, or those who have surrendered their lives will inherit the kingdom of God. The result of Jesus being Lord of our life is a life of surrender in many areas. To be like Jesus in the area of helping the poor might realistically look like this. You cash in your huge home, your loaded car, and your savings account and live like those you are wanting to help. The relationship with Jesus is the substance of your life and anything that is fluff is no longer useful to make you happy. The climbing up the social ladder by what you own is no longer existent in your motivation for life. You might say, “That would make me like Ghandi.” And you would be right. But…..that is more like “works.” We know where this will end up and they are called Pharisees. So to keep ourselves from falling into a “me” faith we must realize that God becoming a man was the ultimate emptying of self so that we might have something we can’t earn or deserve. Salvation. He made those of us who were weak, strong, through His grace. So, what should we do to meet the needs of those who are without? I don’t know how far that should go, but it would stand to reason that we cannot give without getting to know those who need the gift. The early church took care of each others needs as they came up and their fellowship was so close that God allowed persecution on them so they would take the message of Christ to the world. He took the emphasis off sharing material things and switched it to dealing with spiritual things. In honor and obedience for what Christ did for us it compels us to do whatever we can to take the message to a lost and dying world. Who are the lost? Rich or poor it is those without Jesus in their life. It matters not!
So the next time you want to give your leftovers to someone and don’t share how to be saved, you might want to rethink the importance of a forgiven heart and make the message the priority. We can never get away from this basic foundation of our faith. And realizing that importance does “change everything!” Without Christ it is all useless.
The Pilgrimage continues….