28 May 2023
The apostles at Jerusalem added nothing to the Gospel Paul preached. They only asked him to remember the poor. This brings the poor into focus together with the Gospel. It raises the importance of remembering the poor in the church. Christians must hold to the truth of the Gospel. We must not forget the poor either. We may have our misgivings and reservations. Yet, it doesn’t change what the Scripture calls our attention to. What is the relationship between the Gospel and the poor? How should we understand this exhortation?
As I came back to the ministry, I begin a sermon series through the book of Galatians. And the Lord lay upon my heart, this particular passage of verse that I'd like to share with you today on Galatians chapter 2, verse 10, on remembering the poor. Not a usual text, not or usual passage, but yet I think it jumps out, calls out to us to stop, pause and wonder. So, a little bit of context, in order for us to get into the alignment of what Paul was talking about here. The Book of Galatians, in the New Testament of our Holy Bible is written, because there were false teachers who wanted to discredit Paul and his gospel, in order to introduce their own gospel. So over 2000 years ago, that was this battle for the truth of the gospel. Paul was defending his apostleship. In other words, his right to be preaching the gospel. And he's also defending the gospel that he's preaching. And that began in chapter 1 leading up to chapter 2. And in chapter 2, he recounted his journey up to Jerusalem, 14 years after he was converted. After his first missionary journey, after the churches in Galatia were founded, and the gospel began to spread to the Gentiles, meaning outside of the Jewish circle. And he went up to Jerusalem to meet with the Apostles in order to seek an agreement on the truth of the gospel, whether what he's preaching is any different from what the Apostles that Jerusalem has been preaching. And as he met up with them, he found out that they added nothing to him. In other words, they had nothing new or nothing extra to add to the content of the message of the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ, to save us from our sins. So, the truth of the gospel was established and preserve, and there was unity. Yet in that meeting towards the end, there was one thing that they requested of Paul, and it's something that I want to touch on today to share with you why it is important for us to pause and ponder. The Scripture tells us only they ask us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.
I. The Gospel and Poverty
Now, the late founder of Apple, Steve Job, has a famous line in his annual presentation, at the end of his presentation. Do any one of you know, and can you all recall what he likes to say, and they are waiting for him to say that every time. Anyone? If you remember, usually at the end, he would say, 'One more thing.' Right? And that usually is the introduction since the day he began of the iPhone. Now, it doesn't mean that what has been presented earlier is unimportant. But here is something he's trying to bring out that is equally significant and important. And so, when we look at this one thing that the Apostles in Jerusalem brought up to Paul's attention, it is not saying that the truth of the gospel is not important. It's very important. In fact, most of the discussion is over that. But the fact that they brought this up to the table, just before they close the meeting, they were asking Paul to remember something that is significant. They were asking him to do something that was important in connection with the gospel as well. And it is to remember the poor. Sad to say in the past 100 years in evangelical Christianity, we have been faithful to remember the gospel, but we often forget the poor. We are eager to hold on, to defend, to proclaim the truth of the gospel, but somehow, we are a little shy and reserved when it comes to remembering the poor.
But today, I hope and pray that as a church at Gospel Light, we will remember the gospel and hold on to the truth of the gospel, yet with a same heart that flows from the gospel, we will also remember the poor. Now I understand that this is a subject that may be a bit foreign. It's not the usual. But we also have our reservations, even as Christians, or even as ordinary folks. What are some of these reservations when we talk about, think about remembering the poor? One of it is depicted by this picture I'd like to share with you. Can you all tell what is happening here? That's exactly right. Scam. Okay, a bit slow, but you got it. Better late than never. Here's someone pretending to be a beggar without legs, but then when he stood up, actually, those are fake knees. And so, he is trying to scam people along the street to give to him as if he is the poor. Nobody likes being scammed. I remember not too long ago reading in the news that there is a Singaporean couple who went to Genting Highlands. And a couple of Chinese women approached them and say that they lost all their money at that the casino. They were hungry, they were poor, please buy me some food to eat. And so out of compassion, they bought them some food. And when they came back to Singapore, they read in the news that these women were arrested for scamming people at that food court. And this couple said that they felt really lousy about it. Because nobody likes to be scammed. And so that is one honest reservation we would have when we think about helping the poor.
Now as Christians, there might be other considerations that we have in mind, and rightly so. Take for example, in Second Thessalonians chapter 3, verse 10 to 11. It says here for even when we were with you, we will give you this command, 'if anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work but busy bodies.' In other words, the Church wants to be loving and ought to be loving. However, we do not encourage laziness. We believe that Christian believers should be diligent. In Chinese, we say don't come here and 'chi bai fan.' Don't come here and expect that because loving, so we don't have to work, we can busy body. 2000 years ago, it was true. 2000 years later, it remains true that diligence, providing for the family is important. And we should not be looking to charities to help us make ends meet. So that is one concern we have if we are not careful. But if you are familiar with scripture, and you dig a little deeper, you will come across in the pastoral epistles, another verse in First Timothy chapter 5, verse 9 to 10. Now this is a little deeper, but I'm sure you all can catch it. It says here, 'let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than 60 years of age, having been the wife of one husband, having a reputation for good works, if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, has devoted herself to every good work.' Enrolled to what? Enrolled to a register back in those days to be supported by the church as a widow. As one of the less privileged, as one of the poor. In other words, even when we wish to administer charity.
Over 2000 years ago in the early church, they were not anyhow, we got money, don't think so much. No, Paul is telling Timothy. No, we have to encourage the right values as believers, to live as children of God, as children of light. And so do not be encouraging wrong aspirations and laziness, etc. And so even when you want to support people, have clear guidelines. You know, if you look at these guidelines, honestly, a lot of people no need to sign up already. Because almost like if she can do all this, might as well go and support yourself. Right? But that's the whole point, isn't it? So, our reservations about remembering the poor are not unfounded. We do have a reason to be concerned about how we wish to help the less fortunate. But actually, as I thought about it, I feel that for many of us, the biggest reservations that cost us to hold back may not be what I have shared earlier, as much as this problem.
What do you think this problem is? I no money. Remember the poor, I'm poorer than you. So how to remember, you remember me instead, right? So that's how we feel, how we think. We come into church, we move about in life thinking we are very, very poor. And so, why should I? Let someone rich do it. Let someone who drives a nice car, do it. Let someone who lives in a nice house, do it. Not me, because you feel you are one of the poor. However, though you may have these reservations, the Scripture remains clear that we need to have a heart that is changed by the gospel of our Lord Jesus. A heart through which the love of God can flow to others. And so, we read in 1st John chapter 3, verse 17 to 18. 'But if anyone has the world's goods and see his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in Him. Little children, let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth.' In other words, the Scripture connects our wallet with our heart. It connects our finances with the gospel. It says that if we truly have God's word dwelling in us, let it not be just talk, let it show, in deed and in truth. And James, take it even a step further, to challenge us to consider our faith. It says, 'If a brother or sister is poorly clothed, or lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, go in peace, be warm and filled.' It sounds so pious and loving and kind and good, right? But notice here in the context it's just words, without giving them the things needed for the body. You know, that there are real needs, not imagined ones. You know this brother or sister, you have a relationship with them. And when you come into contact with them and became aware of their needs, and yet you did nothing. James says, what good is that? It's of no value, it's worthless. Those words are not match with deeds. And so, remembering the poor, caused us as believers, as Christians, to live out the gospel with concrete financial compassion.
In Galatians, chapter 2, verse 10, it is place right after the truth of the gospel has been clarified and confirmed. It is brought up at the end of the meeting, as the one thing that they asked Paul to do. What would you have asked Paul to do if you were in their shoes? They say to Paul, remember the poor. Now in order for us to do so, we must first be very clear as to who are the poor. Who are the poor in Scripture? Now, in New Testament, it is interesting that this description, the poor, is only use of the poor in Jerusalem. In other words, there is this collective group of people in Jerusalem back in the ancient days, whereby they were known as the poor because of poor soil condition, or poor irrigation, famines, wars. And later as the gospel spread and many believed, persecution against the church have left many without homes and property. And so, they were extremely poor. So, we're talking about people who live in abject poverty. It's not imagined. It's so well known that they are called the poor, so what does this mean? It means for example, you can't leave this service and go to someone in the church and say, 'Hey bro, you know today we heard about remembering the poor. I'm eating at hawker center all this time. I very poor, can you please give me a treat at Din Tai Feng? We're not talking about that. We're not talking about, 'wow nowadays the sun very hot. Every day I must walk, take bus at the bus stop. And then all sweaty already. Hey bro, I'm very poor. How about you lend me your car for a spin for a few days? Friends, we're not talking about that kind of poverty. We're talking about grinding, abject poverty. Something that if you encounter you would know that they have real needs, none of it is imagined.
Now, of course, in the Gentile churches, as we read in the book of Corinthians and passages that I brought you through it. There were people who are rich, and there were also people who were poor. There were people who have more to eat and people who have less. And that's why there was some conflict over the Lord's Supper and some, you know, disunity over the love feast. Yet out of that poverty, that some of these Gentile churches experience, they were able to give or collect an offering to give to the poor in Jerusalem. So, you can see that relative to the poor in Jerusalem, the Gentile churches, though they are not very rich, they are still able to raise a love offering. That's how poor these people were. What are some parallels perhaps we could consider in our world today? Perhaps we could consider refugees of war, people who have lost their homes, who are running for their lives. Perhaps we could consider those who were stuck in Singapore during the COVID period. And they have no roof over their heads. And they have no means to be able to sustain themselves for a prolonged period of time, in Singapore. And so, these kinds of situations do surface, although they may not be permanent, and yet the needs are real. And so, when Paul heard what the apostles at Jerusalem asked of him, his response was, this is the very thing I'm eager to do. It communicates a strong, clear resolve to do so. It's not to Paul like, 'oh, I never thought of it, you know? Why did you ask me this? Why are you talking about this?' No. He said, 'No, I agree with you. In fact, I can't wait to carry it out.' And that's why you read in the New Testament, in his writings, that he spent portions of the Scripture talking about this collection. It's all to remember the poor at Jerusalem. And some of you may be thinking with me now. Well, that was 2000 years ago, and that's Jerusalem.
So, what relevance it is for me today? Did you not recall that Jesus said, 'the poor you always have with you.’? In other words, the reality about finances and economic situations is that it goes up and it comes down. And there are times when people will experience poverty that is crushing in our lives. And when those moments come, are we ready? Are we ready to respond and be eager to do so? How can we be ready as believers to live our Gospel with concrete financial compassion? I'd like to suggest to you first, if we are going to be eager to remember the poor, we need to understand the relationship between the gospel and poverty. You see, the gospel confronts us with our poverty apart from Christ. In the book of Revelation, it says, 'you say, I am rich, I have prospered. I have nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.' One of the pictures God gave us when we are outside of Christ, where we are not yet saved, where we have not trusted in the Gospel, is that we are poor. And that is the worst form of poverty. Because it takes place when we think we have everything in life, when actually we have nothing of eternal value. And the gospel confronts us with that reality. And until we face the fact that we are bankrupt spiritually apart from God. Until we are broken and humbled by the fact of what sin has robbed us off, we will not come to Jesus.
But the gospel also communicates to us the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake, He became poor. How did he become poor? He left the glories of Heaven, though he is the one true God. He took on the form of a man, He was born in a manger. He lived a perfect life, fulfilling the law, the righteous demands of God, and yet for the life of righteousness that he lived, the example is left behind. He willingly went to the cross at Calvary. There he was hung, shedding His blood, bearing our sins upon that cross, so that He can die for our sins. So, the Scripture uses the pictures of wealth and poverty to communicate what the Gospel has done for us. So that we can realize, that though we were so lost, though we were so without hope, as poverty would have caused you to feel the same pinch and crunch. But even then, it's just physical. But this is spiritual, this is eternal, and your eyes are open to see that, and you'll come to the Lord Jesus. And in that humility, in that brokenness, you found that Jesus died for your sins. In the moment, you trusted in Him as your personal savior. In the moment, you call out to him and say, 'God, I thought I have everything. But actually, I have nothing. I come to you with nothing in my hands that I can bring. But through your cross, I cling. The cross where you paid for all my sins. For your sake, He became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich. Rich, in Christ, that's what the gospel has done for us. And so, our hearts can be filled with a gratitude, with a love that we never had before, for the One who loved us, and gave Himself for us. Now we know the gospel. For those of us who are believers, we trusted in the gospel. We come to church to worship God because of the gospel. But have you considered the connection between the gospel and how you look at the poverty of others in relation to your wealth?
The Scripture tells us in the Gospel of Luke. I wouldn't say young, but of a short man, a short man by the name of Zacchaeus. In children story, we sing and we talk about how he would, you know, try to see Jesus as He was passing through. But because he was so short, you know, sounds very cute. And so, we sing with the children and clap hands and how he climbs up to the tree. The sycamore tree, and he's so funny, and he's so nice, and he walked by, and he saw Jesus, and the Bible tells us, Jesus looked up and said, 'I'll come to your house for tea. And Zacchaeus went, 'Yes', and he brought Him to his home, had tea. And Jesus at that visit, say, 'today, salvation has come to this house.' Since he's also a son of Abraham, the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. Now, why did Jesus say that salvation has come to this house? Is it because he was short and cute? No. Is it because he climbed the sycamore tree? No. Is it because he looked out for Jesus? No. Is it because He went to his house for tea? No. Why did Jesus say that? Is it because he saw something that our eyes could not see? No, he could but not quite, because the verse before tells us why Jesus made this statement, making the connection between the gospel, the salvation we have in Jesus, and how we remember the poor. Zacchaeus, when he met with Jesus at his home, and he was moved, and he realized his poverty although he had everything. And he came to the Lord Jesus and trusted in Him. He stood up and said to the Lord, 'behold Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it four-fold.
Some of you might be thinking here, four-fold. Wow. Good to be cheated by Zacchaeus. Win, four times you know. Better than any investment product I can buy. You're thinking financially, right, good. Let's continue thinking financially. He says here, half of my goods I give to the poor. You know, it's pretty sad these days, because we read in the news, got a lot of scams. One of the news I read, I don't know whether you have come across that, is of an elderly man who downloaded a Google Play Store app from some location. And that app was you know, filled with virus and it robbed him of all his life savings. In fact, all $70,000 that he just got from a CPF It's heart wrenching to read of such story, but it gives us a glimpse of how much money some people may have, after saving for a lifetime. 70k is not a lot for some people. It's enough for some, perhaps. But let's talk about Zacchaeus. Perhaps after ripped off so many people all his life as a small-time crook. Because it's like an organized crime here. As a small time crook, a one-man operation, he ripped off enough to have a lifetime savings of $7 million. Not bad, not a lot, but okay, maybe you say. And he says half of my goods I give to the poor. So, if, let's say in our modern terms Zacchaeus had $7 million as his lifetime saving. He's saying I'm gonna give $3.5 million to the poor. And the rest of us say, Amen. Why? Of course, you bad guy. Good for you. Should have done it all along. Right? Now think with me. What if this $3.5 million is your money instead? What will you be thinking? Maybe, maybe you'll be thinking $3.5 million. Wow. I can pay off my housing loan already. Interest rate nowadays so high. Or maybe you're thinking wow, 3.5 million? Wow, I can send my children off to school, to college overseas. Don't have to everyday stress whether he got good results, because got money already. In the pocket. Hot. $3.5 million can. Will you be thinking, hooray, I can't wait to give away all this money? I don't think so. Unless your heart has been changed by the gospel. Isn't that true? So, when you think of the half of my goods as someone else's goods, we often times can be very objective and even righteous in our opinions. But the moment it become mine, then we tend to be a little more partial, a little more circumspect, a little more careful, because we know our needs, and we see what this money can do for me.
However, when the gospel came into the heart of Zacchaeus, he no longer thought, not calculated that way. In fact, his heart was so changed by the reality of the poverty that Jesus saved him out of that he says, I am willing to give half of it away. That's what the gospel does. For those whose hearts have been changed by Him. He creates a changed heart that thinks and works differently from before. In my discipleship journey, I have the privilege of journeying with a brother by the name of Thomas Law. It is not in our life on life missionary discipleship curriculum. But I observed that as we journey along, there was a time when he on his own accord, not because it's initiated by the church, not because there was a program going on. On his own accord, he went to the rental blocks in Punggol, sought out this less privileged people and began to bring them to the doctor to meet their medical appointments. Began to bring them some
vitamins and essence of chicken and what not to supplement their health. And even brought them out on an outing like this, all on its own. Borrowing the church van just to bring them out so that they can get out for a breath of fresh air. And so, sometime later, I asked our brother Thomas here, why do you do that? What motivated you to do so? And I remember the first thing he said to me is, you think I'm very free. I'm actually not free, okay? Very busy. And furthermore, he says, sometimes I go to these places, they looked at me not like grateful or thankful. They looked at me like you got money, of course, you should help me. So, it's not a very easy relationship. However, he said, I'm doing it because of God's love in my heart. I'm doing it from the way I understand what he described, because of the gospel. He understood the poverty he was saved out of. And when he realized that and his eyes began to see what Jesus has done for him. Out of that brokenness, that humility, that gratitude, he is willing to remember the poor. I'm also thankful because I have met and come to hear of various folks in the English congregation here, who bring people down to the Chinese side, to introduce to me because they have been reaching out in their own way to the poor as they meet with them. And I'm so thankful that the gospel is changing our hearts to have such compassion to the less fortunate.
2. The Gospel and Riches
Here's the second thing we need to understand if we are going to remember the poor, which is the relationship besides the gospel and poverty. But also between the gospel and riches. Paradoxically, the gospel that confronts us with our poverty also causes us to become rich, but not in the way that we would imagine, as some teach today. What do I mean? The Bible tells us that the apostle Peter, in the book of Acts, after the day of Pentecost, when he preached and 3000 people were saved. One day was simply making his way to the temple, to worship God to pray. Along the way, he met with a beggar who was asking for alms, who was lame. And Peter, when he saw him didn't say, hey, I'm going to pray, okay, don't disturb me. After I pray, then I take care of you. No, he didn't do that. Neither did he said, I got no money. You look at me also no use. I poorer than you. He didn't do that. Instead, he said this, I have no silver and gold. But what I do have I give to you. You see the richness of his faith and love as a believer in Jesus Christ. His thinking is not, you so poor thing, let me go and fish and sell the fish and calculate how much money I can earn to give to you. He was no longer thinking of what he can do with his limited means. In fact, he had no qualms, no fears, but he said in the name of Jesus Christ, pointing us back to the gospel of our Lord Jesus. That you know what, the fact of the matter is, as children of God, we are no paupers. We are rich in Christ. We can be rich in mercy, rich in compassion, rich in love, rich in faith, rich in good works. And this is not necessarily limited by what you can do on your own. And so, he said, In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, rise up and walk. He gave out of his nothing, because he understood that he is rich, in Jesus Christ. Now some of you may be thinking, immediately, of course he can. He's an apostle, he can do miracles. If I can do miracles, I also will do a lot, help a lot of people.
But strangely, today, in the modern church scene, some of those who speak the loudest of miracles are reportedly lining their own pockets. And so, we're not talking about a richness in miracles, in signs and wonders, richness in wealth, before we can remember the poor. We're talking about a richness in our Lord Jesus Christ that causes us to be loving and generous, and rich in good works. How then can we take the next step? If we understand that we are rich, in our Lord Jesus. Well, the Scripture tells us in 1st John chapter 3, verse 17 to 18. I showed you this passage before, but now I want to highlight a different aspect. It says, if anyone has the world's goods. Let's jump back a bit here to Peter. He says, what I do have, I give you. You see, the gospel never calls us to give out of what we do not have. It tells us to give out what we do have. So, the first thing we need to consider is what we have in Christ. That we are rich, and we can be rich in good works. But then when we understand that, the Bible calls us to consider what we do have in terms of the world's goods. In other words, if we're going to be rich, in Christ, to remember the poor, there is a need to make financial adjustments to your income, to what you receive, as returns.
And we see this in the book of Acts, when there were great needs in the church. The believers, who became followers of Christ, they sold what they had, and they gave it to the church to feed the widows and the poor. We see that in the Gentile churches as they began to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, and they were saved. And they heard of the Jerusalem poor, they began to collect a love offering willingly and give even out of their poverty because they have the world's goods. They may not have a lot, but they are willing to make financial adjustments to what they actually have, in order to remember the poor. Do you know, that this is not something new to the early church, to the New Testament? Because in the Old Testament, all the way back to the law of Moses, God already stated. When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your feel right up to its edge. In other words, if you have a piece of land and you have a great harvest. You know, people don't think God is speaking to Israel here. Moses was calling out to the people of Israel here. Don't think that all of it is yours. Don't have that kind of mindset, make an adjustment. Leave the corners, leave margins for others. Neither shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grains of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner.
He's not speaking just to those who are wealthy, he's not talking to the Bill Gates and Steve Jobs of that world. He's talking to the ordinary citizens. He was talking to them because he said, if I am your God, if you are my followers, if you truly believe in me, remember the poor? How? Make financial adjustments by not considering all that you have, as your own. Leave corners, leave margins, for others. Do you realize that in the Old Testament, there is this beautiful story of a widow who decided to follow her mother-in-law back to the land of Israel? And they have lost everything. They have nothing, no roof over their head. They have no food to eat, they have no means of income, and she's a foreigner, a sojourner. But there was a man in the town of Bethlehem. This is not the story of the birth of Jesus. This is an Old Testament story of another family. And in the town of Bethlehem, in the area surrounding, there was a man who observed this Old Testament law. He obeyed what God said. He left margins, corners for the poor and the sojourner. And because he did that, the young lady who was widowed by the name of Ruth, was able to bring food home to feed her mother-in-law, Naomi. And as a story went on, eventually, the man Boaz saw the faith and devotion of this young lady and decided to marry her as his wife.
And together, they became the ancestors of our Lord Jesus Christ. Why? Because Boaz remembered the poor. He did not reap the harvest right to the edge and say, all of it is mine. Blessings from God. Hallelujah, Amen. Laugh all the way to the bank. He said, you know what, God has blessed me. But I'm going to obey God, I'm going to make financial adjustments, in order to remember the poor. This is not just for the priests. This is not just for the clergy of the day. This is not just for those who are more spiritual or pious. This is for everyone who says that the Lord is your God. You need to have a heart that understand your riches in Christ, and make those financial adjustments to remember the poor. In America, there was a pastor who wrote this book. I look at the title and I thought, wow, another health and wealth book. It says 'How to Be Rich'. But when I began to read it, I realize it's not telling me of believers, how to get rich. Another one of those health and wealth deals. He said, how to be rich in Christ and his title is, it's not what you have is what you do with what you have that makes you rich, as a believer.
3. The Gospel and Jesus
Lastly, if we are going to remember the poor eagerly, we also need to consider the gospel and our Lord Jesus. Have you ever considered the example of Jesus? As I studied this passage and thought about it, it was very striking to me that poverty is an essential part of our Lord Jesus identity. He said to them, who were listening, foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head. Have you ever thought about this? Our Lord Jesus, he is not rich. He is not middle income. He doesn't own a house. He doesn't drive a car. He doesn't even have a university degree. He has no vocation home or destination. He did not have any of these perks that you and I will consider today as blessings from God. And yet, our Lord Jesus did not pity himself, nor did he feel inferior. In spite of his poverty, in spite of the fact that he knows that the Son of Man has nowhere to lay down his head. On the day when he stood up in a synagogue to speak. He didn't say, God bless me, help me to get on with life, because life is so hard with no money. He said, instead, the Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. In other words, our Lord Jesus, he prioritized and pursued the poor in the preaching of the Gospel, even though He himself was poor. Now, how about us today? Sad to say, I think there are some who may walk into church with head held high, because you think you have a great position in society. You have made it in life, you have rose up in the ranks. And so, you think that you are somebody and you have the blessings of God. And there may be others who come into church, and your head is sunk between your shoulders because hard as you tried, you're not successful in your career. You haven't made much money, and you're still living in a rented flat, and you are not making advances. And so, we build our identity around our economic status. And we come to church thinking, God, if you love me, bless me, give me the breakthrough. And everybody gather around and say amen. I'm not saying that's wrong. God loves to bless us and give good gifts to us. But is this your identity? Is this all you seek and care for in this church? So that Gospel Light is the place for advancement? Make connections, upgrade yourself, so that you come and look up to those who have it? And then those who have not, feel bad. Or are we going to say, you know what, I'm going to follow the example of Jesus, no matter where I live. No matter what I drive, no matter how much I earn. I'm not going to let it cost me to wallow in self-pity and feel inferior. I'm going to love as Jesus love. I'm going to reach out to those less fortunate. I'm going to do what I can, I'm going to give my widow's mite.
And our Lord Jesus says, when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Who are we inviting to our church today? Do we think that this is a club for all those who have made it in life? And so, the respected, beloved ones are those who held a respectable position, in their careers? Or are we saying you know what, it's not unusual for us to see all kinds of people walk into this church, because we want to reach them with the gospel of our Lord Jesus. I'm thankful that under the leadership of Pastor Jason, even years ago, before we come here, he has supported the young adults, who reach out to the poorer folks at Zion Road, where we were meeting nearby at a hotel. And when we come here. You know, we step up our ministries and we are open to have shelters for those who are homeless. So, we now have an S3P ministry. I'm thankful also that we are reaching out to the workers at dormitories. But I hope that this doesn't seem like foreign to you, like CCA, like extra, you know. Because you have gone up the Maslow hierarchy, and you're up there. Now you can look down and say, let me help you. I hope that there's no such pride and such sense of being arrived or being there. Because this is really just part of the gospel. This is the example of our Lord Jesus, it's nothing to brag about. And it should not be something so foreign to you. A commentator that I read, had this code I thought to share with you in closing. Ministering to physical needs is not separated from spiritual needs. Both flow from the redemptive love of Christ as expressed in the lives of his followers. In other words, we need to remember the poor because that flows out of the heart, changed by the gospel. But whereas we remember the poor, it is also a check on our heart, on our spirits, whether we are constantly being changed by the gospel. So, I hope that we will live out the Gospel, with concrete financial compassion, that this will not be something foreign to you. But you can understand why the apostles brought it up to Paul, and why it is so much in the Holy Scriptures, as you read it. But I also hope that if you are remembering the poor and helping out, you don't feel that you are one up over those who don't. Because honestly, we don't do it to get more spiritual. We do it simply because we understand our poverty in Christ, and we understand our riches in Christ. And we are following the example of our Lord Jesus. We are simply living out the gospel as it should be.
Let's pray. Our Father in heaven, we thank you so much for this day. We thank you for your Word that has spoken to our hearts. Perhaps it's not something we constantly consider. But yet, it is right there in Scripture, causing us to pause and to wonder. I pray for my brethren here together with me. That we will keep coming to Jesus recognizing our poverty, that out of that changed heart, out of that heart that is constantly being changed and filled with love and generosity in response to what Jesus has done for us, we will remember the poor. We will be ready. We will be eager to do what Paul was eager to do. And thus, let us follow Jesus well, in the year 2023. And thus, let us live out the gospel faithfully. For I ask and pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.
More Episodes from Pastor Chee Keen Seethor:
04 Dec 2022
27 Oct 2019
25 Dec 2018
09 Dec 2018
02 Dec 2018
30 Mar 2018
24 Dec 2017
31 Oct 2017
Episodes from other sermons:
23 Jul 2023
18 Jun 2023
28 May 2023
07 Apr 2023
12 Mar 2023
25 Dec 2022
20 Dec 2022
11 Dec 2022