Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Are the Poor Lazy?

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)


Amber said...

I read the article. Wow. She did a great job giving others another view into what life is like for many.

Thank you for sharing.m

Sandy King said...

I read a very good book called 'Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the way to Fight Global Poverty'. It was research into what kinds of aid and intervention work in the developing world, what doesn't work and the reasons why they do or don't work.

What struck me most was that even when people don't have enough to eat, even when they live in extreme poverty, they don't always make rational decisions. They don't always make the 'best' decisions. If I am truly honest, I can see that this is because they are as human as the rest of us (!). I don't always make the best or the most sensible decisions. I try, especially for the sake of my children, but I before I was able to make better decisions I had to learn to value myself (long story). What if you never learned to value yourself? What kinds of decisions do you make if you never learned to value yourself, let alone anyone else? That also came across really strongly in Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis. When she, by grace, was able to show compassion and love, people began to change and to make better decisions for themselves and their families. But to say that poor decision making is what causes poverty is just a way of saying 'I'm better than you and I don't care about you'. I think it was St Francis who called poverty his gift from God? Not sure.

Christine said...

Sandy, I am so happy to have you visiting. You have wonderful insight; I love this perspective. The article helped me understand why my neighbors don't even try to have any social grsces. They don't really care what we think of them because they think so lowly of themselves. When we think lowly of ourselves, we assume everyone will agree so we figure...why bother with people, except when you need them. Shame makes people just want to be alone, or be with people who think equally lowly of themselve.

Christine said...

Amber, just want I thought. Wow. She really did do a great job.

Amber said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. I do hope you had a wonderful day!