When the woman anointed Jesus’ head from the alabaster jar of ointment, the disciples rebuked her for wasting the ointment when it could have been sold and given to the poor. Jesus’ response to them is often misunderstood. He said, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me.”

Poverty has always been a relative thing. Of the so called “poor” in America, as a recent set of statistics show, almost half of poor households have air-conditioning; nearly a third have microwave ovens; more than 60 percent own a car; 14 percent own two or more cars. One of the major problems facing America is the government definition of poverty. We have been experiencing an increasing number of “poor” with a declining number of “rich” people to support them. I’m wondering if Jesus wasn’t pointing out that giving economic aid alone is not the only kind of help people need. When we pay peoples expenses without requiring labor of any kind in return we will eventually bankrupt the benefactors without enriching the recipients in the least.

True life change of the poor happens when there is repentance, rejuvenation, regeneration through faith in Jesus Christ. An honest and open commitment of our lives, pouring ourselves out, to Christ, does more to heal the poverty in the world than all the welfare programs man can devise. Besides, as someone else once said, “Spiritual poverty inside the Christian faith is also relative. Everyone who is reborn immediately falls heir to all of the Kingdom’s spiritual wealth. However, the individual’s willingness to invest time, energy, and finances determines the enjoyment of that wealth. Economic equality is an illusion; spiritual equality is a potential reality. While we cannot have equal access to lucre, all Christians have equal access to God and an equal opportunity to be spiritually affluent.”

“For the poor you will have with you always, but you will not always have me (Jesus.” (Matthew 26:11)