spiritual poverty Who cares about the poor? Do you?

Do you really?

I’ll be honest with you, I don’t care about the poor.

spiritual poverty

If I cared, I’d be more like Bono or Mother Teresa or even Wess Stafford — someone with influence and name recognition, someone with a story. If I cared, I’d do more, right? If I cared, I’d dedicate my life to serving the poor — as their champion, as their savior.

That may be a bit dramatic, but every day I battle a voice that constantly tells me I’m deficient as a person. The voice is aggravating, stupid, persistent, strong and above all, wrong. But despite the latter, fighting the voice is still the central focus of my waking hours. Ugh!

And despite what the voice is trying to convince me of, I do care. And I’m afraid.

I’m afraid of getting out of my comfort zone. I’m afraid of surrendering control. I’m afraid of what it might mean to have my behavior demonstrate that I care. What might that cost me?

Because I’m impatient, abrupt, often rude, condescending and even downright mean, the lie of poverty gains traction with me:

“If you cared, you’d be kinder. If you cared, you’d demonstrate love better. If you cared, you’d be more patient.”

And most days, I’m sad to say, this reasoning seems to make sense, which is baffling when I think about it because if I am patient, I’m just that … patient.

Attentiveness, patience, happiness, calmness, those are all behaviors and behavior is the fruit I bear — good or bad — but it is not who I am. And the absence of that fruit doesn’t mean I don’t care.

But what if the lie is actually the truth? What if I’m wrong and I don’t really care about the poor? Am I evil?

The Rev. Malcolm Duncan said, “When we fail to stand up for the poor, we fail to stand up for God,” and I believe that.

But the lie of poverty takes my belief and wraps it in guilt to convince me that I don’t really care about the poor, that I’m just doing what I think I’m supposed to be doing, that if I really cared I’d have more joy about it, and by extension I’m a bad person because I don’t have that.

On and on it goes. It’s sick really. The lie of poverty is sick!

Who cares about the poor? God does. Which is good for me because although my economic situation says I’m not poor, that’s a lie too.

And it’s good for you too because the lie I hear is the same lie I know you’ve heard a time or two,

“My sponsorship doesn’t make a difference.”

And it’s the same lie that your sponsored child fights every day,

“You don’t matter. No one cares about you.”

Who cares about the poor? Who cares about us?

God does.


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  1. May 14, 2010
    at 5:50 am

    What really jumped out at me about this post is the idea that there is a script that runs through our heads convincing us to think or act negatively. I DO believe that – and I don’t want to assume that everyone here is Christian – but my belief is that these negative scripts are what Satan uses to distract us from God’s truth and God’s purpose for our life. If he can get us focusing repeatedly on the negative — well, mission-accomplished.

    Chris, your script is about being “deficient” somehow. Children in poverty struggle with “you don’t matter.”

    My script is one of greed. Every year when it’s time to give my family gift to my sponsored kids, something pops up that I think I need. It’s ALWAYS something materialistic, expensive and ego-driven — a keeping up with the Jones’s kind of item. I fight to make the right choice, but the script to be greedy and use my money wrongly is definitely there. If Satan can convince me to use what money I have in a foolish way and prevent me from helping others, that is a very big victory for him. I try to remember that.

    I think it’s wise to sit back and really think about what your negative script is, so at least you’re prepared for it when it comes and you can tell Satan, “sorry it’s not going to work this time.”

    • May 14, 2010
      at 10:39 am

      Lisa,

      You’re right. It’s very much like a script exists which the voice reads from, that the voice can’t do anything but follow the script. That means it should be pretty easy to fluster the voice, just deviate from my part of the script and the voice won’t know what to do. Voila! I wish I was better at improv.

  2. Marvin
    May 14, 2010
    at 9:53 am

    I have to ask the question how do we define poor? The poorest people I have seen live financial well but take medication for depression or anxiety. I have also seen poor people in the 3rd world who are depressed and drunk. But I have also seen Christians and churches around the world that are rich in Gods love. I have found when my focus is on God and people the money is easy when my focus is on myself it’s hard. I buy things to fill the void of emptiness if I am out of fellowship with God and people. For me the real struggle is making the children we sponsor part of the family. Most of us give sacrificially to our biological children but it’s hard to really consider the child in the picture as part of our family. If I did I would probably give more sacrificially. The idea…God wants me to care for the poor of the world is so overwhelming I would rather not think about it…it’s like world peace.

    • May 14, 2010
      at 10:42 am

      Marvin,

      I agree that the idea of caring for the poor of the world is an overwhelming one, as is world peace and a host of other ideas. Sometimes I think my back and forth with “the voice” is because I do care but I get overwhelmed and feel helpless and hopeless, so my defense is to ignore the big elephant in the room.

  3. Kathy Olson
    May 14, 2010
    at 10:08 pm

    Chris, do you have you own kids? What would you tell your own child if he were wrestling with what you describe? I used to wrestle with “Scripts” (I like Lisa’s comment) very similar to what you describe but slowly, over time the Lord has healed that. When I had kids of my own, I came to understand God’s love for us in an entirely new way. When I had my own kids I loved them completely, unconditionally, beyond description. I didn’t look at their best efforts for something to nit-pick or criticize. I would never say “I expect perfection from you! Your effort isn’t good enough”. I realized that if I, as a very imperfect parent, could love my kids that much, how much more does God love each one of us? There is a verse somewhere that says he is aware that we are but dust and ashes. He knows our weaknesses and our imperfections and He loves us beyond description, completely, unconditionally. God marvels and what you do and who you are, Chris. There isn’t one of us out here,Wes Stafford and Mother Theresa included, that aren’t full of flaws and imperfections. Hopefully all of us are growing and learning and healing and becoming as we go through life. But beating yourself up because all the good you do in never enough is a lie of Satan. The Lord takes our humble offerings, imperfect as they are, and he blesses them and multiplies them like the loaves and the fishes. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Do what the Lord shows you to do, grow where he prods you to grow, but know that you won’t be perfect until you see Him face to face and that is okay. In the meanwhile, learn to feel the Love and Peace that God feels toward you. I don’t think the Lord would have you beat yourself up like that. Look at it this way: All of us are flawed and imperfect in our giving to the poor, but we are the Lord’s imperfect army, bought with His blood, and Christ makes up for our lack. He is the bridge between our shortcomings and God’s perfection. You are good enough Chris and the Lord couldn’t love you anymore if you did more or gave more.

  4. Amy Wallace
    May 15, 2010
    at 8:45 am

    Thanks for another post to really get me thinking, Chris.

  5. Mike Stephens
    May 16, 2010
    at 8:01 am

    Matthew 6:33 “But seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.”

    Proverbs 16:33 “The lot is cast into the lap but the decision is wholly of the Lord (even the things which seem accidental were really ordered by Him).” Amplified Bible

    talk about poverty…Jesus went from Heaven to earth! I can’t even imagine that. Then he was insanely mistreated. I think that is partly why Jesus says what you do to the least of these you do to me, b/c Jesus has “been there”. So “Who cares about the poor?”

    Jesus cares about the poor ;) And since “I” am in ChrIst I care about the poor. How do I care about the poor? Well sponsoring through Compassion, visiting some of my sponsor kids to try and encourage them with bible verses. Praying for them. Writing them letters and sending them gifts at times. And also telling them to not give up on their DREAMS as I do not give up on mine! For me this is how I believe I care about the poor b/c if I am going to see my DREAMS become a reality the faith that will take I believe is the same faith the poor have to not give in to the lies and circumstances they face. So the real way I care about the poor when it gets down to it is being and example in my faith in God that God will do what I believe He will do, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense b/c God is going to do what He is going to do. But Chris your question is GREAT b/c you are asking am I really obeying God doing unto them “the least of the these” as I would do to Jesus? And I say yes I am caring for the poor b/c I have not given up hope in what God will do and is doing within them and me. But I can always improve ;)

    Chris the lie we and our sponsor children face I believe is obliterated through prayer and the reality that someone does care and is caring and God is AWESOME regardless ;) However realizing the lie is there or even maybe there gives us the opportunity in faith to bring in the TRUTH that God loves the kids we sponsor and their families and us too

  6. kathleen spurrell
    May 16, 2010
    at 9:46 am

    I think, as christians we feel guilty because we KNOW what we can and should be doing to help alleviate poverty.. Sponsoring a child or two is great if that is all we can afford…many of us know that we can do more, hence, the guilty feelings.

  7. May 17, 2010
    at 8:44 am

    Xynthia, I don’t think Christians are meant to feel guilty at all. We have been saved from guilt. I wonder sometimes if we label our feelings guilt when actually they are something else entirely, perhaps, something like sadness . . . that the world is so filled with sin and struggle.
    I think we like to be sad less than we like to feel guilty. Mostly because there is not much to do with the sad feeling but we can take heroic efforts to affect the guilty feeling.

    Just my thoughts though. :)

  8. James H.
    May 17, 2010
    at 8:32 pm

    We all struggle with what more can I do, and let the doubts begin. Then a letter arrives and the doubts disappear and the belief that someone will escape the cycle of poverty. I have read a few stories of the Compassion children doing without food meant for them, just to help out another family member at home. To be able to sponsor one and help several is God’s way of telling those doubts to get out of the way.

  9. May 27, 2010
    at 1:56 pm

    The only way we can care about the poor or for anyone else, for that matter, is through God’s love in us. It’s really all about Him and all those that He is reaching out to. His love and caring is huge! He reaches out to each one in just the right way and time. I’m amazed He reached out to me because I needed Him so very much and didn’t realize He was the answer to all my needs. If we’re close to Him, we will automatically reach out to the poor, because He will be doing so through us.

  10. Adam Y.
    Jun 7, 2010
    at 1:56 pm

    Thanks, Chris. I struggle with the exact same thoughts. I see others (some still in their teens) doing thousands of times more for the poor than I ever have and I feel guilty that I don’t do more. If only I were a millionaire. If only I were famous. If only. Then I’m reminded to be faithful with the resource God HAS entrusted to me – that is what He asks of me. That doesn’t mean I can’t improve my stewardship, but it does help me put the issue in perspective.

  11. Anna
    Feb 28, 2011
    at 10:06 am

    I to have those thoughts, that I’m not good enough to serve the poor, and stepping out of my comfort zone. But I’m trusting God that he choose me for a reason and gave me a heart for these precious kids.

  12. Peter Maxwell
    Feb 28, 2011
    at 2:47 pm

    I would be a great show of caring and a practical method of providing if we had more living sacrifices in the business world. Why not have dedicated corporate sponsors that give a majority of their profits consistently and regularly? The funding for these companies would have to be living sacrifices too because for-profit investors will not tolerate siphoning off large percentages of profits. Nor will they tolerate a company making less money in order to bring more benefits to people. No, these companies would have to be non-loss, non-dividend companies where the investor only gets back the original amount. No dividends would be paid and the company makes money in order to cover its costs and contribute to ministry.

  13. Mar 16, 2011
    at 4:44 am

    Chris, I just saw this…. I think your struggle is like Paul had with sin in Romans 6,7,8. We have two natures. Yes, our flesh doesn’t care for the poor. My flesh cares for me, myself, and I, the unholy trinity. But through God I can have victory, because I’ve been given a new nature.

    Now, I think Wess is a great example to follow. But when I think of Bono or Mother Teresa, I think you have a better example in Wess. I must say this with any celebrity, I’ve met so many of them and when it all comes down to it, most of their charity works seem to have as motive to further their carreer. I don’t know Bono, so I can’t say much about him. But I’ve met celebrities that only got involved with charities, because the charities paid them a lot of money and they got to be seen by men as a good person. It made the pharisees look like saints. They didn’t request money to do good things, just wanted to be seen by men. I’ve heard Mother Teresa say some things, which really puts some serious doubts in my life about her. She may have done some good things, but without Christ, those good things are like filthy rags at the very best.

    So, I’m encouraged by you!!!!

  14. Oct 18, 2013
    at 5:18 pm

    we take care of sponsor child

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