The very thing which I also was eager to do. Galatians 2:10
Devotion: 4 of 7
READ: Mark 10:17-31
Helping people isn’t just isolated to a few people who have a specific call and gifting to do this kind of work. It is something (as we have discovered over the last couple of weeks) we all must do.
This has become a lot clearer from what the church had said to Paul and Barnabas before being sent out to do the work of mission. No one would argue about the gift of Apostle on both these men who had instructions to fulfil the Great Commission of going out and preaching everywhere to build the Kingdom of God. But they were also told to fulfil the Great Commandment of loving God and loving people.
The specific instruction is stated in Galatians 2:10 as Paul recounts what was said to him “They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do.” The key thought is obvious in what was said to Paul, as he was encouraged to “remember the poor”. However, the key word I believe in this statement is “also” – as he said “which I ALSO was eager to do.”
The lesson here is that remembering the poor is ALSO part of what we do within our ministries, calling and who God has created us to be. It is no different for Jesus as we see Him preaching, healing and helping people as a daily work.
In the Gospels we see a conversation Jesus had with a rich young man who had come to Him asking what must he do to inherit eternal life. Jesus answered by telling the rich young man to know and live the commandments. His reply was he had kept all these things from his youth.
Now the conversation went a little deeper and the next thing Jesus said required everything from this young man. “Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.’” Mark 10:21
There is a comparison here between what the church had said to Paul and what Jesus said to the rich young man. They were told about a specific task to do – with Paul it involved ministry and going out to preach and empower people. With the young man it was simply to live the Christian life obeying the commandments. Both men were able to do these things and then both were asked to remember the poor.
The response to the poor is different between the men and we are still challenged with this today where some of us are like Paul who have no problem saying “which I also was eager to do”. But most of us may identify with the response of the young man as the scripture records “But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” Mark 10:22.
To remember the poor may be easy for some people and takes nothing from them to go and help people who have great need. But I am reminded every day, even with me, that helping people is not easy. It requires all we have, to make the decision to change and go to extend a hand to help someone who is living it rough or may be without food or clothing.
This is the cost we all must be prepared to pay to follow Jesus which requires commitment and an unselfish attitude towards others. The problem with this comparison of Paul and the young man isn’t just that some choose one way and others go the other way. Personally, I have responded with the enthusiasm of Paul and ALSO was eager to remember the poor through helping people. But at times I have also responded like the young man as well, after counting the cost and observed how difficult it is, was sad and went away.
None of us are perfect when it comes to helping people and like me, eager with thought to help and turn away when it becomes tough. But what speaks to me through all this is the unwavering commitment Jesus has with us and I find comfort in the words “Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him…” Mark 10:21. Jesus is always watching out for us, never stops loving us and encourages us to never give up helping people.
And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 19:10
As you speak to God today, open you heart and be honest with Him about the struggles you may have in remembering the poor. He never gives up on us and is delighted to give us strength and boldness so we can make a difference in someone’s life.
Remembering the poor goes deeper than just thinking about them and knowing they are around us living in our communities. It’s doing something about helping them in a practical way which will cost something from us. Find some time to reflect how you can change and when asked about helping people how would you like to respond.
Paul was eager to help and the young man went away sad because it required more than what he is willing to give. If we made some bad decisions in the past, it’s never too late to turn that all around and next time instead of walking away sad, be eager to help and witness a change in someone’s life.
What will you do next time when the opportunity to be helping people presents itself? God isn’t looking for perfect people, only people who are willing to not give up and try again.
When helping people, do not do it alone as God sent a helper for us. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you and empower you to be that help someone may need. Doing this in our own strength is setting up ourselves to fail over and over again. But doing it through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit will not only help a person in need, but will show them Jesus – who sees them, loves them and wants to speak to them.
You can make a difference through helping people.