All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along. Gal. 2:10
It was a morning full of meetings. It started at the office with our weekly staff meeting. From there I was off to visit someone in the hospital who was recovering from surgery, followed by a meeting over lunch with a leader in our church. I got back to my office mid afternoon feeling good about my day so far and was ready to follow-up on the emails, text messages, and phone messages that had piled up through the morning.
As I sat down at my desk, I noticed the blinking blue button on my office phone indicating that I had a voicemail waiting for me. As I sat down at my desk I pushed the button to play the message and started to open up my laptop. Once the person on the voicemail said, “Hey Bryan, it’s…” I slapped my forehead with the palms of both hands and slowly dragged them down over my face.
The voicemail had been left about forty-five minutes ago from a woman sitting at a near by coffee shop. She was asking me where I was. A few weeks back she had expressed interest in serving in our church and we had set up a meeting to discuss how she might be involved. I completely forgot. With all of the coming and going that morning, the meeting completely slipped my mind. The worst part about it, the exact same thing happened with the same woman two weeks earlier. I was mortified.
Our lives are incredibly full and busy. Our mental capacity is often stretched to it’s max. Between significant moments like birthdays and anniversaries, all our different appointments and meetings, following up with your son or daughter on how the big test went, running errands on the way home from work, feeding the dog, going to your kids’ baseball games, responding to that text message or voicemail from three days ago – we have countless things to remember. We even have devices on which we can set reminders to ensure that we don’t forget anything, yet we still do.
As Paul recounts the early years of his ministry in the first few chapters of Galatians, it appears as though Paul’s life, too, was incredibly full. He talks about traveling between Arabia, Damascus, and Antioch. He references moving through Asia Minor to preach the gospel and plant churches. He even made a few trips to Jerusalem to meet with the church leaders there. And all throughout his ministry he keeps track of all the different people he meets and even writes letter to them to follow-up and stay connected. There’s no doubt he had all sorts of people and things to remember.
Yet in the middle of chapter 2, Paul’s encouraged by the Jerusalem leaders to specifically remember one thing, the poor. With all that he had going on, they added one more thing to his plate.
When my life is full and I can barely keep up with my schedule and someone mentions to me about someone else in need, I often think, “I don’t have the time for that.” Usually I get a little disgruntled and defensive and say to myself, “Who do these people think I am? I can’t meet every need out there.”
But Paul’s response is different. With all that he had going on, with all of the responsibility he had to carry, with all of the impact that he made throughout the whole world, no one would have ever faulted him for responding saying, “I can’t meet all the needs in every place I visit.” But rather his response is a wholehearted willingness, “The very thing I had been eager to do all along.”
Paul’s response is so different from mine and it causes me to ask, is it really that I don’t have time to help the poor or really believe that it’s not my responsibility? Or are those just convenient excuses I use to avoid the situation?
The reality is I remember to check Facebook daily and keep up with blogs that I follow. I have enough time and remember to watch my favorite tv shows. I prioritize exercise and make sure I get in my weekly workouts. While life is busy, I have the capacity to remember and engage in lots of things. The truth is they are the things I deem important.
So perhaps we don’t remember the poor, not because we don’t have the capacity, but because we’d rather forget them. They make us uncomfortable and challenge our assumptions. They disrupt our neatly ordered lives and redefine our understanding of those who are the greatest in the kingdom.
But if we have eyes to see and a willing heart, the challenge to remember the poor points us back to Jesus. Paul writes of Jesus in 2 Cor. 8:9, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”
The call of our faith isn’t to become poor, but to remember them. Remembering doesn’t mean thinking about the poor, it means engaging with them. It means entering their world to meet them where they are. And since Jesus became poor, if we really want to know Him, perhaps the poor are the very people who can most fully reveal Him to us.
So while today you probably have lots of things to remember, along with that list of things, remember the poor. Remember those around you who are in need. And don’t just call them to mind but be ready and prepared to extend to them the grace of God that has been given to you.
1. In what ways are you overwhelmed by all that you have to remember?
2. How does that affect your attitude toward serving those in need?
3. Who are the less fortunate in your life and how can you serve them this week?