Learn About/Subscribe:
Christian Union
Christian Union: The Magazine
CU Alumna and Hamilton Cast Member Finds Identity in Christ By Ashley LaLonde Growing up in the heart...
July 15, 2016
What-Jesus-Mean-Poor-Always-With-You-CU-TodayWhen Jesus tells His disciples “The poor you will always have with you,” it may seem like He is telling His disciples that caring for those in need is a secondary concern. Some may use this passage as justification for tight-fistedness, but Jesus’ message is actually the opposite.

Relevant magazine explains the broader context of Jesus’ message about poverty:

It just so happens that in saying "The poor you will always have with you," Jesus was quoting another well-known Biblical phrase—from a well-known passage of the Jewish Torah. Everyone hearing him back then would have caught his drift.

Here's the full original quote:

If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be ... For the poor you will always have with you in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’ (Deuteronomy 15:7-11)

So, reading Jesus' words in their original context you can see that His words were meant to spur generosity towards the poor. "Open wide your hand!" The command to be open-handed towards the poor comes directly from Yahweh himself.

It is also important to remember that, within the context of scripture, Jesus said these words as a rebuke to Judas, who had not been charitable to the poor:

The second thing to note about this story is that Jesus says these words to rebuke Judas who was scornful toward a woman for pouring out her perfume on Jesus: He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief: As keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. (John 12:6)

So, when we use Jesus' words to justify not caring about the poor, we are actually repeating the very sin of Judas himself, who was robbing the poor.

Jesus calls us to open our hands wide to those in need. We must rejoice in the blessings we have received from God, and, in turn, give aid to those who do not have the same material benefits as us. That is what Christ wants us to do.