“They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do.” (Galatians 2:10 NKJV)
It’s interesting when we see different understandings of the same event. It appears that Paul’s dealing with the famous conference in Acts 15 regarding whether or not to accept Gentile believers. According to the book of Acts there were some dietary restrictions and a command to avoid sexual immorality. Paul describes the results here as the need to remember the poor. Is there a contradiction in the two stories? I think not. In my understanding Paul didn’t mention the dietary restrictions and the command to avoid sexual immorality because that was already a given. The Galatian Church may have been messed up, but they were good about keeping this part of the law. What Paul emphasized was another thing that should have gone without saying and that is that the people of the church should remember those in poverty. Perhaps it was mentioned in the conference and the response was “well of course.” Now, though, the Galatians had forgotten the need to care for the poor and were judgmental about people in poverty.
I think it goes without saying that my interpretations may be wrong, so, take my commentary with a grain of salt and do deeper research if you will. Please feel free to let me know if you believe that I’m wrong. That being said, we need to remember these words today. As a church, we’ve abdicated our call to care for the poor to the state which provides financial help, but doesn’t help people in poverty get out of poverty. Our call to remember the poor should include helping to meet financial needs, but also dealing with spiritual needs and training to break the bonds of poverty. We should offer hope, through the power of God that goes beyond survival and enters into the areas of physical and spiritual needs that the government can’t offer. Too often we expect people in poverty to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, and we don’t notice that we’ve cut their bootstraps off. We may criticize them for not doing something about their situation without realizing that we’re contributing to the walls they have to climb over to succeed. We should, like Paul, be eager to help people in poverty. We can do that by listening to their concerns and working together to overcome the obstacles the world would place in their way.
Oh Lord, there are so many people in poverty. I repent of the fact that I, with means, would impose my solution for people instead of listening and working together with people in poverty. Work through Your church and empower us to remember and help the poor eagerly.