Whose poor are they?
Jason Nelson

My town has one homeless man named Gene. You would recognize him if you saw him. The entire town is keeping him alive. He kills time by walking the street, and no one hassles him. He uses the bathroom in the bank. He has survived bitter cold by spending nights in the post office lobby. Good Samaritans have taken him for breakfast. People give him a buck or two because he still drinks his lunch out of a brown paper bag. Gene may have brought this on himself, but there isn’t a lot of judging going on. The people of this town know we usually bring it on ourselves.

Jesus once said, “The poor you will always have with you” (Matthew 26:11). He wasn’t being dismissive. He was stating a fact. A review of his other comments reveals he assumed his disciples were already helping the poor.

No one is debating that poverty is a problem. More people are falling into it. But whose poor are they? Should public policy provide a safety net? Will the private sector let wealth trickle down to them? Can charitable organizations meet their needs until they get on their feet?

It’s a tough call. Jesus made it tougher when he said, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Matthew 19:21).

Whose poor are they? They are ours.
 


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