In order for our hearts to develop a religion that is "pure and undefiled", we have to let go of prejudice. In dealing with some neighbors over the past 14 months, I've been so challenged in my thinking. Slowly, God has dealt with my self-righteous, ill-conceived thoughts by interjecting an article here and there, and speaking to me personally from Scripture.
My heart took issue with my neighbors' cigarette smoking habit, their spending habits, their lack of gratitude, their habit of sending uncomfortable children over to beg for milk, sugar, bandaids, eggs, cash, etc., rather than coming themselves. Not to mention the idea of them burning children's paperback books I sent over, for whatever crazy reason.
I didn't consciously think I was better than them, but deep in my heart, that was my sin.
Scripture tells us that our hearts are deceitful, and yet deep down we stubbornly think this means other people, not us. When we're confronted with the truth, which is inevitable if we're in the Word, the next step is bending low, declaring: "Yes, God. You're right. My heart is vile and deceitful. Please change me."
Compassion must scream loudly from the heart of a Christian. How compassionate we are speaks of how grateful we are. It speaks of how thoroughly we understand our position before God. The Beatitudes tell us "Blessed are the poor in spirit." The poor in spirit understand their position before God. They freely admit they are bankrupt, devoid of anything redeeming, outside of the indwelling Holy Spirit bought by the blood of the Cross.
I invite you to take this journey with me. This poverty-of-spirit journey to help us fully understand what God has done for us.
Here is an article that will change your heart regarding the poor. It will explain why the poor make such seemingly stupid decisions, like buying cigarettes for themselves, rather than ensuring enough milk for their children. It will challenge your thoughts about how hard the poor work. In truth they often work very hard, rarely resting, the hope of even a mini-vacation a cruel joke. You'll understand more fully why compassion must be our middle name.
Before you click, let me say that not all the observations in the article are about the author's life. She draws from her own experiences, and the experiences of people she knows. It's raw, with a few F bombs, but please, click. More money in her life is not the answer. Christ, and his true Hope, are the answer. Joy comes not from enough comfort, convenience, or money. It comes from the indwelling Holy Spirit, who gives us joy regardless of our circumstances. Pray that for her, and pray that God removes the blinders from our eyes, so that we can do the compassionate, heart-changing work he desires of us.
We can't just read such an article and say, "Wow, that's sad." It has to change us...give us a pure and undefiled religion that compels us to live for Christ, so that hope can be planted in desperate hearts.
Poverty is the absence of hope, as the article will demonstrate. We can't obliterate poverty, for the Bible says we will always have the poor. But hopefully not the abject poor. Their numbers are dwindling, but they're is much work left to do. As our hearts purify, their numbers will reduce further. As we let go of our prejudices, so will their bellies let go of hunger.
“So wickedly, devilishly false is that common objection, ‘They are poor, only because they are idle’.” ~ John Wesley (The year 1753)