DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: Do you think we’ll ever do away with poverty? I heard someone say we could do it if we just tried hard enough, but didn’t Jesus say somewhere that there would always be poor people? I can’t imagine living the way millions do in some parts of the world. — V.M. DEAR V.M.:
You’re probably thinking of Jesus’ comment to some of his disciples, after they criticized a woman for pouring a jar of costly perfume over his head as an act of respect and love.
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They contended she should have spent her money helping the poor instead of wasting it on Jesus. But Jesus pointed out that he would not be with them much longer, while the poor would always need her help. Soon he would be taken from them, he said, and the opportunity to express their love in person would be over. (Mark 14:3-9.)
Jesus’ words have sometimes been misunderstood; some have even suggested he was being insensitive to those living in poverty. But nothing could be further from the truth. Repeatedly the Bible commands us to be concerned for those in need, and it points out that God has a special concern for the poor.
Remember that Jesus knew what it was to be poor; Mary and Joseph had very little in the way of material goods. The Bible says, “Whoever is kind to the needy honors God” (Proverbs 14:31).
Will we ever eliminate poverty? We should do all we can, but the real barrier is our human nature. Unless Christ changes our hearts, the human race will always be riddled with greed and corruption and selfishness. Put your life into Christ’s hands, then ask him to use you to help others overcome both their material and spiritual poverty.