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The Poor Will Always Be With Us…

I’ve heard it said more than once that the poor will always be with us. This phrase originates from Matthew 26:6-13, where Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume. The problem, though, is how the phrase is used. 

In this passage, I could easily see myself reacting like the disciples. They were indignant over Mary’s use of the perfume. She could have sold it and used the money to help the poor! Jesus, however, being his wise self, went on to say,

“Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to me. For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have me.”

Generally, when I hear this passage used, someone is using it as an excuse for keeping their resources to themselves. There will always be poor people, and we can’t help them all. It’s a shame to hear attitudes like this, because such an attitude is neither biblical nor helpful. It’s important to note in this passage that Mary did not keep the perfume to herself. She sacrificed it. She didn’t sacrifice it for the poor, but she sacrificed it for Christ. Either way, she sacrificed it. So why do we want to use the same passage as a reason not to sacrifice at all?

This passage also reveals the hearts of the disciples, who had been with Jesus for years, learning his heart. They had a heart for the poor and hurting around them. Jesus taught them a life of sacrifice. Unfortunately, we often think of sacrifice in terms of sacrificing for ourselves. That sounds like an oxymoron, but hear me out. For some reason, we generally feel that, as a church, we sacrifice so that we can increase our buildings and what fills our buildings. We sacrifice for ourselves. Sacrificing to make your life at church more comfortable is not really sacrifice at all.

We have this “if we build it, they will come” attitude, pouring into ourselves hoping to draw people in. However, we see in Scripture that the disciples were sent out. Churches were going out. They were sent out like sheep among wolves, with little belongings, completely dependent on the Lord. We must go out into the world. The hurting and lost do not care about our buildings, our pews, our lights, our offices. They care about their own life, and that is why we have to go put ourselves into their lives. Sacrifice. Sacrifice. Sacrifice.

Sacrifice so that one day maybe people will not turn from the church because we are greedy but because we are crazy.

Commanded and Called,

Matt Atwell


About the RBC Blog

Each week, one of the members of the RBC staff write a short blog about their area of ministry or a devotional about one of their favorite passages of Scripture. Check in with us each week to see what our church leaders have to say about their walks with the Lord! New posts appear every Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. PST. 

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