A Gospel for Hard Times — Morning Devotions - Hope 103.2

A Gospel for Hard Times — Morning Devotions

Jesus showed sympathy to the poor and downtrodden. When we look at our own lives, do we show the same love?

By Chris WittsFriday 15 Apr 2022Morning Devotions with Chris WittsDevotionsReading Time: 1 minute

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There was once an English theologian named Herbert Henry Farmer. He retired from the ministry in 1960 and continued writing and preaching and died in the early 1980s. He tells of one day learning a lesson he never forgot.

He’d had a busy day and arrived home tired and exhausted, just wanting to have a cup of tea and a bit of peace and quiet. He put the kettle on, sat down to enjoy his English tea when the front doorbell rang. He was annoyed at the interruption but went anyway.

There standing at the door was a woman, dressed in rags being led by her 12-year-old son. She appeared to be nearly blind. They were going house to house selling something. Farmer was annoyed and told them he wasn’t interested. The boy told his mother, Come away mum, and he led her out down the step towards the sidewalk. As he paused near the gate, the boy turned back to the churchman with a look of pure hatred as his eyes met the older man. It startled Herbert Farmer, and he said later he had never seen such a look of hatred before. He went back inside his warm house, and couldn’t drink his cup of tea. Instead, he fell on his knees by the sofa and prayed, “Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner”.

You may think there’s nothing very startling in that story, but it made me think. What is our attitude towards the less fortunate in our society? Do we care for them, or do we think it’s someone else’s business to help them? As a Salvation Army Officer, people have often stopped me in the city streets asking for help, and I have had to make instant decisions about what I should do.

As you read the Gospels, you find—especially in Luke’s gospel—stories of how Jesus helped the poor. Jesus was sympathetic to the poor and downtrodden. Indeed, he showed disgust at the wealthy who ignored them. Many of these people showed no concern whatsoever towards these poor people. Let’s take a look at some of them all shown in Luke 12.

The stories of 3 rich men

There was the story of the rich man who had such a bumper crop one year that he decided to pull down his barns and build greater ones to store it in. He was on a winner or so he thought. But he had no thought for the poor. Only for himself and what he had. God said to him, “You’re a fool. Tonight you’re going to die. Then who will enjoy your crops?”

Then there was the story of another rich man who loved to dress in purple. Purple was a sign of wealth. He loved his food and dined sumptuously. But there was another man in the story, a poor beggar who sat outside his gate, begging for money. And every day the rich man rode by and didn’t bother to throw him anything. The rich man died and went to Hades, a vague shadowy underground. (If it were shown in a theatre, this is where the dry ice would be released, and the fog would rise over the stage.) And who did he call for in his predicament? The poor man named Lazarus. But it was too late. He had his chance to be good to the poor man, and he blew it.

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And then there was the story of the wealthy ruler who came to Jesus and asked how to be saved. It was about keeping the law—everyone knew that. I’ve always done that, the ruler said. But there’s still something missing in my heart. And Jesus said, Yes, I know what you mean (well Jesus didn’t say exactly that, but that’s what he meant!)—“Go and sell everything you have and give the money to the poor and come follow me”.

What an amazing request. But this wealthy man couldn’t handle such a thing. Luke says he walked away from Jesus with his head down because he had a lot of possessions. He was rich. He had too much to give it away. And he didn’t become one of Jesus’ followers. He missed out everything that day because he thought he had everything. The trouble was his riches had him, and he blew it. Just think what a wonderful impact he could have made for Jesus sake.

And the story of a poor widow

And then there is the story of a poor widow in the gospel of Mark who dropped two tiny coins into the temple treasury. These coins were so worthless they didn’t even have any inscription on them, and nobody bothered to notice them. But listen to what Jesus said about her action that day:

“…The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. All the others gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all.” Mark 12:44 – The Message

Jesus knows that these are not any two coins, but the woman’s last two coins. The text says, “All she had to live on,” but the original in Greek is starker still. What it says is that she put in her ‘bios’. It’s the word from which we get biology, the study of life. For Jesus tells us that the widow put her ‘life’ into the temple treasury that day. These were her last two coins to rub together, and rather than keeping one back, she tossed both into the temple treasury’s coffers.

The widow gave 100 percent of her money. The widow is down to two practically worthless little coins, and she trusts it all to God. If this were a gamble, then the widow would be laying all her money on God. But this is not a gamble, for the widow does not bet her money; she trusts her life to God. She loved God and gave us a tremendous example of how to live a generous life.

I think we can be challenged to ask:

  • What do I do to help the poor and less fortunate?
  • How much do I love others?
  • Am I willing to give my money and time to them?

Jesus has some harsh words to say to those who don’t.