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  Forget Me NotThursday, July 25th, 2024  
by David Smith Forget Me Not
"James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship ... They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do." (Galatians 2:9-10)
Fact: One-half of the world - one out of every two people - lives on $2.00 or less per day. One-fourth of the world - one out of every four people - lives on $1.00 per day or less.

Fact: If the world's population were represented by 1,000 people, 600 of them would live in a shantytown.
"... we should continue to remember the poor..."
Fact: One in every five children in the United States lives in poverty.
"... we should continue to remember the poor..."
Fact: Those who claim to be "Christian" in this world lay claim to 62% (nearly 2/3's) of this world's physical wealth, yet "give away" less than 3% of that wealth (and much of that 3% goes back to serve their own system, not being pure "charity").
"... we should continue to remember the poor..."
But what does it mean to "remember?"

Often times in Scripture, the word "remember" does not refer to something pertaining to memory, but to action. An example: "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy." (Exodus 20:8) To "remember" is to "keep" or "observe" the Sabbath. It's constructive, not merely cognitive. Another example: "He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David ... to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant ..." (Luke 1:69,72) God hadn't "forgotten" His covenant then looked at his Dayrunner and "remembered" His covenant. To say he "remembered" is to say He acted on His covenant by sending Jesus, the "horn of" our "salvation."

And it's precisely this sort of "remembrance" God has in mind when He conveys to us our need to "continue to remember the poor." For if we "continue to remember the poor," we will act on what we believe - we will do something for them - we will come to believe and live this belief:
"... enjoying superfluous wealth while others are starving is wrong." (Ron Sider, in his book Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger)
Or as God has said in His Book:
"If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." (1 John 3:17-18)
"... we should continue to remember the poor..."
Now I personally have what I would call a "bad memory." But perhaps you can identify with this - I've found I remember best what engages more than one of my senses at a time. Show me a picture of what you're telling me and I'm more likely to remember it, for I "saw" it and I "heard" it. Sometimes things I haven't remembered in years leap to remembrance when I "touch" and "smell" something. We remember what engages most of our senses, the more of them at once the better. So, in the interest of "remembering the poor," use your God-given senses.

1. See the poor.

Look around. Open your eyes. See people in need. Don't look past them anymore. Notice the poor around you. Pay attention to how they are treated (or mistreated). Not just by individuals, but by groups, organizations and government.

Then pay attention to how you treat them. It ought to affect everything you do. It should affect the way you acknowledge people as you stand in the check-out line. It should affect the way you look at them as you drive down the road. It should affect the way you vote. And much, much more. For there is no place for snobbery or stinginess with people who claim to follow Jesus.
"The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern." (Proverbs 29:7)
Our spirit should be like that of a blameless man named Job:
"If I have denied the desires of the poor or let the eyes of the widow grow weary, if I have kept my bread to myself ... if I have seen anyone perishing for lack of clothing, or a needy man without a garment ... then let my arm ... be broken off at the joint. For I dreaded destruction from God, and for fear of his splendor I could not do such things." (Job 31:16-22)
"... we should continue to remember the poor..." So see the poor.
2. Hear the poor.

Listen to their stories; get informed as to what's going on with the poor of our community. In the Sunday, Sept.3, 2000 edition of the Houston Chronicle, there appeared an article (p.17A), part of which read like this:
"Cindy Greaney is grateful to have friends like Baron and Minni. Her dogs keep her warm, protect her at night, and give the 36-year old homeless woman a reason to keep going. It matters little that her pets prevent her from entering a homeless shelter, moving into low-income housing or taking odd jobs."
Another homeless pet owner said:
"Anytime living out here on the street that you have an extra mouth to feed it gets difficult ... but I'm not giving my dog up, so I'm going to stay sleeping outside."
Did you hear what was being said? If you heard something like this: "Those people are obviously lazy and good-for-nothing. They're irresponsible and foolish," ... then you just may have heard Satan speaking! But if you heard something like this: "I'm alone and unloved. No one trusts by me or sticks with me. The only thing in this world which seems to love me is this dog. I'd rather have love from this dog than a place to sleep. That's how much I need love." ... then you probably heard right. For what people rich and poor alike need most is love. So strive to truly hear the poor. In hearing them, you may help them to survive - and they just might help you to live.

And if you still need a reason to listen, here's a pretty good one to remember everyday you live long enough to utter a prayer you hope is heard:
"If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered." (Proverbs 21:13)
"... we should continue to remember the poor..." So hear the poor.
3. Smell the stench of poverty.

Poverty stinks. We all "stink" with sin. The sin of the poor doesn't stink any worse than our own! We don't have the option to help only the "worthy poor" - there's no such thing.

As William Law put it many years ago in his book entitled A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life:
"Shall I withhold a little money or food from my fellow creature, for fear he shall not be good enough to receive it of me? Do I beg of God to deal with me, not according to my merit, but according to His own great goodness, and shall I be so absurd as to withhold my charity from a poor brother because he may perhaps not deserve it?"
Get close enough to smell what it's like to be poor - and help do something about it. "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress ..." (James 1:27)
"... we should continue to remember the poor..." Smell poverty
4. Taste a bit of poverty.

Learn to live with less. Just plain do without. Develop more simplicity in your life. Give stuff away - how much "stuff" do you really need, anyway? Fast - literally - and in so doing, learn to "taste poverty" - literally. For you and I must never forget - especially if we believe we live in very good, economic times - that greed is sin!
"... among you there must not be even a hint of ... greed, because [this is] improper for God's holy people... . For of this you can be sure: No ... greedy person-such a man is an idolater-has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God." (Ephesians 5:3-5)
Or as Jesus would put it:

"Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor... . For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Luke 12:32-34)
"... we should continue to remember the poor..." Taste it.
5. Touch the poor.

Many Christians - even whole churches - often exert tremendous effort to distance and detach themselves from the poor. Quite simply, they literally move - and in so doing, often keep right on moving - all the way over to "snob hill," never to truly interact with / remember the poor.

But as for you, determine to deliberately swim against the tide. As a Christian, remember that you and I are called to deliberately develop relationships with people who are not of our own "social class."

As our Lord Jesus Christ has said:
"... Jesus said ... 'When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.'" (Luke 14:12-14)
As God's Spirit has revealed:
"Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited." (Romans 12:16 NIV)

Never forget - to "remember the poor" is a big part of the reason you go to work everyday - and I don't mean to relieve your own "poverty," either!

"... do something useful, working with your own hands ... that you may have something to share with those in need." (Ephesians 4:28)
"... we should continue to remember the poor..." Reach out and touch the poor.
Henry Chadwick, one of the foremost church historians of all time, reflecting on the rise and global spread of Christianity in it's first few centuries, once said: "The practical application of charity was probably the most potent single cause of Christian success." Indeed!

"... we should continue to remember the poor..."
"Because of [this] service ... men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else... . Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!" (2 Corinthians 9:13-15)
This is not a hard concept to grasp, only hard to do. You can "sense" what is right and good, noble and true, godly and loving. And right now is the time to respond to this word of the Lord. Do what you can today to "... continue to remember the poor."

Copyright © 1996-2000, Heartlight, Inc., 8332 Mesa Drive, Austin, TX 78759.
Article © 2000, David Smith

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