Chris' Original Blogbeque

A fresh, vinegar-based examination of life

Spurgeon devotional on Gal 2:10

Posted by Chris on March 17, 2007

The following is from Spurgeon’s Morning Devotional, March 17. It can be found online at http://www.studylight.org or in book form. Charles Spurgeon was a famous pastor and preacher and his set of morning and evening devotionals are excellent. This entry deals with the theme of social justice in the Bible. It is written about Galations 2:10, which Spurgeon shortens to “Remember the poor.”

Any bold is emphasis added by me. Italics are the words of Spurgeon, plain text are my comments.

Why does God allow so many of his children to be poor?

He could make them all rich if he pleased; he could lay bags of gold at their doors; he could send them a large annual income; or he could scatter round their houses abundance of provisions, as once he made the quails lie in heaps round the camp of Israel, and rained bread out of heaven to feed them. There is no necessity that they should be poor, except that he sees it to be best. “The cattle upon a thousand hills are his”-he could supply them; he could make the richest, the greatest, and the mightiest bring all their power and riches to the feet of his children, for the hearts of all men are in his control. But he does not choose to do so; he allows them to suffer want, he allows them to pine in penury and obscurity. Why is this? There are many reasons: one is, to give us, who are favoured with enough, an opportunity of showing our love to Jesus. We show our love to Christ when we sing of him and when we pray to him; but if there were no sons of need in the world we should lose the sweet privilege of evidencing our love, by ministering in alms-giving to his poorer brethren; he has ordained that thus we should prove that our love standeth not in word only, but in deed and in truth. If we truly love Christ, we shall care for those who are loved by him. Those who are dear to him will be dear to us.

Let us then look upon it not as a duty but as a privilege to relieve the poor of the Lord’s flock-remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Surely this assurance is sweet enough, and this motive strong enough to lead us to help others with a willing hand and a loving heart-recollecting that all we do for his people is graciously accepted by Christ as done to himself.

Great stuff. I believe in a Sovereign Lord who not only is allowing poverty, but has purposed it. Spurgeon did not live during the information age and the globalized world. His lack of knowledge about the widespread poverty of the third-world should not be held against him, therefore, I have no problem with him saying that one reason for the poor is to give us an opportunity for showing love. The existence of the poor I take to mean that concept, that reality, but not the singular existence of any poor person. One could not point to a little boy in a picture from Africa and say “he is poor because we need someone to love.” There is a BIG difference between causes and purposes. God’s purpose for allowing poverty in his Big Plan does not mean that the heart of God is not mourning for any specific person. I leave the poverty of a certain child in Africa to some explanations that are context-specific, along with responsibility we all bear for our sins and the inevitable results of a fallen world. God’s purposes do not justify the means by which they might be carried out if the means are people sinning against others, if that makes sense.

Let us not try to set up a God of prosperity, or a God that frowns upon wealth and romanticizes the poor, overlooking their sins and exalting them above their worldly condition. Rather, as Spurgeon writes, let us see the path God has laid before us as a privilege to relieve the poor and by doing so, clothe, feed, and serve our Savior.

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