"John 12:8: You will always have the poor"

You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me. (John 12:8, NIV)

Context: John 12:1-11

Have you wondered why God allows hunger? Maybe you've contemplated how humanity should use the world's resources to eliminate world hunger. Satan tempted Jesus to use His power to eliminate hunger. Although Jesus resisted the temptation to turn the stones into bread, later after He feed the 5,000, the people wanted Jesus to use His power to keep them fed (John 6:25-31).

It's easy to concentrate only on physical needs. Advancing science and technology increases our ability to meet people's physical needs. But, science and technology don't tell us how or when to use it's capabilities. With increased ability to do good comes the increased ability to do evil. Scientific advances can even cloud our ability to discern good from evil. Genetic engineering and cloning are two examples. Past progress in agriculture, transportation, energy, and housing has impacted the environmental. With efforts exclusively on technology to meet humanity's physical needs, we miss out on the true purpose of life.

The temptation to concentrate on physical needs tells us to depend on government to feed people. Large governments seem more capable of feeding the poor than an individual. When government meets needs, we don't have to empathize with hurting people. However, depending on government takes away from people learning to give willingly out of compassion. The other side of the issue is people depending on welfare and food stamps look to government rather than God for their daily bread. In the same way, our affluence tempts us to forget where our resources really come (Proverbs 30:8-9), and our government programs tempt us to forget helping our neighbor.

Obsession with the physical world's concerns leads us to value the wrong things (Matthew 6:28-34). The physical world is temporary. Learning to let go of fleeting time, wealth, and personal concerns in exchange for concern for other people (Philippians 2:1-11) is more important than the helpful actions (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). Friendship is more important than what friends share because they're friends. God conforming us to the image of Christ (Romans 8:28-29) is our most valuable treasure.

©2001 Perry Vernon Webb. You may quote this page in part or the whole as long as you
1) do not alter the wording and
2) reference this Internet page as the source of the quote.

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