Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Why does God allow poverty? ................. Parables 183

September 20, 1989

Some people say, “I would die before I’d ever go on social assistance.” Others respond, “Oh yea? Without it, I would have died.”

The have’s and the have-nots. Fat and lean. The rich and the poor. Whatever we call them, every society houses both ends of their own particular economic spectrum. Here, the poor seldom go hungry or homeless. In India or Africa, our poor might seem rich in comparison to their levels of poverty.

Some people ask why does God allow poverty? Others may wonder why He allows riches. Unknown to both, God has a social assistance program apart from whatever economic bracket we might be in. Furthermore, His supply of physical or material goods is merely a fringe benefit, icing on the “cake”.

Before we get to the “cake” though, it must be understood that according to Jesus, both rich and poor can put their focus on material wealth and lose sight of the “cake.” In one instance, a man concerned about an unfair division of inheritance approached Jesus. After refusing to act as a judge in his case, the Lord said, “...Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”

Then He told this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops? ...I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul... eat, drink, and be merry.’

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God...”

Jesus address the poor person in the same sermon: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven... for where your treasure is there your heart will be also... no one can serve two masters... you cannot serve God and money... therefore, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on... look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? ...your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things...”

Jesus then tells how to get the “cake” and qualify for God’s social assistance program. It is not by filling out forms or being out of work for six weeks. It is this: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you...” (Matthew 6)

Was He joking? How can a search for the realm of God’s rule fill anyone’s stomach? How can seeking His righteousness (which is not the same as our own brand) put clothes on anyone’s back?

David knew the answer long before Jesus made the promise, “I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread.” (Psalm 37:25)

Simply put, God takes care of His children. He makes sure they have enough to eat and wear. And that is the fringe benefit. The initial gift is new life through spiritual birth, not only entering into His family and receiving eternal life, but entering also into the greatest social assistance program ever.

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