Monday, December 8, 2008

You Do Not Always Have Me

The study of the book of James has been quite an eye-opener for me. In chapters one and two, James brings up the topic of the poor several times. The rich and poor are mentioned in verses 9-10 of chapter one and as Christians, they are instructed in what their real treasure is - faith in Christ. In verses 26-27, James reminds us of what true ministry is - to visit orphans and widows in the distress of their grief and extreme poverty.

In chapter two James exhorts his Hebrew flock not to show partiality by catering to the rich man and neglecting the poor man. He reminds them that God has chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the needs of the poor. Robert and I have had the opportunity to help with a ministry in Uganda - a school for street children (the poorest of the poor) started by a dear friend of ours. And then there is always the reminder at this time of year of our own physical comfort as we hit the malls in search of that perfect gift. This contrasts so sharply with the needs of the poor all over the world. I just learned last night that worldwide, one child dies of starvation every three seconds. There are so many desperately needy people!

Of course, we are compelled by Scripture to minister to the needy. When we become aware of the reality of the poverty that exists, it often happens that our hearts are so touched that we get real busy - organize this and that, cover this need, don't forget that need. But the poor are everywhere. Where do we start? How do we meet the needs of so many? How do we even begin to really raise one such person out of the degrading dust of their poverty?

We begin with the One who became poor for our sakes. We begin at Jesus' feet. In Matthew 26:6-13 we read about a woman who came to Jesus with a vial of very costly perfume, equal perhaps to a year's wages. She broke it open and poured it on Christ's head in the worship of her Lord. The fragrance filled the room. But when "...the disciples saw this, they were indignant. 'Why this waste?' they asked. 'This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.' "

These disciples were so concerned for the poor (supposedly) that they actually berated the woman for worshipping Jesus. But Jesus commends the woman for her good deed toward Him and then says to the disciples, "For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me. For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial."

Worship of our Savior must come before our work for the poor. If it doesn't, we do not have Jesus with us in that work! We will always have the poor, the Lord tells us. The opportunities are countless and demanding. But these very demands can crowd Christ out. Busyness will always grab our attention, but will we set aside those demands to worship the Savior first and foremost? Will we recognize that He is with us and fall at His feet in adoration?
Jesus kindly calls to our hearts, " do not always have Me." All too often we do not have Him in our day. Like the innkeepers in Bethlehem, because of our busyness (perhaps in even serving the needy), there is no room in the inner sanctum of our hearts for Him. Then it doesn't really matter what we tackle - how many poor we feed - for we do not have Him with us. Our busy work is of naught - wood, hay, stubble.
What a joy, however, when we do welcome Him adoringly. The fragrance of His life permeates our own life and spreads to others. He so motivates us and empowers us that nothing is impossible. When Christ is our most precious treasure and priority, we will be sent to His poor that they may become rich in faith, rich in Christ for eternity. No time, no resources, no energy will be wasted for we will be directed of the Lord, clothed with His compassion and love for the needy, and supplied with His strength and wealth. And how will this all end? As it began - in worship for our Savior for He will receive all the glory and honor.

As you enjoy this Christmas season of the year of our Lord, 2008, please remember the poor. But first of all make sure that you have Jesus with you. May this be to what you are committed. Then indeed you will have a joyous Noel!
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Join the discussionYou Do Not Always Have Me

  1. Hi Sharon!
    I just want to tell you I enjoy so much reading your blog. I missed so much the last couple months going to your blog. I was reading today you do not always have me.

    My English is not good enough to express how thankful I'm that you are doing this. Every time I read your blog it touches my heart and encourages me so much…I need to have something like this where I can slow down from my busy day and fill my soul with God's word.

    I leave the music from your blog on all day…Me and the girl that works with me love it!