REMEMBER THE POOR (Galatians 2:10)
by David Lemmons
There are three main sections of chapter two of Galatians: (1) Paul’s Defense of his Apostleship–2:1-9; (2) Paul Openly Rebukes Peter–2:11-14; and (3) The Contrast of Two Systems: Freed from Law and Justified By Faith–2:15-21. In between the first two of these divisions verse 10 (which is really a part of Paul’s defense of his apostleship), is presented as an important challenge to all Christians. We are to REMEMBER THE POOR!
REMEMBER THE POOR! Paul wrote, in Galatians 2:9-10–“And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. 10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.” Paul was pointing out that the “PILLARS” at Jerusalem did not add one thing to the message which he and Barnabas were preaching.
His argument was that his message came to him from Jesus Christ, and not from any other. But along with the emphasis given to the divine origin of Paul’s message, and as a part of it, was the charge to REMEMBER THE POOR.
REMEMBER THE POOR! The POOR in this context would have been the poor saints of Judea. It was not necessary for Paul to be instructed in the importance of such a charge for a number of reasons. First of all, as we will notice shortly, the Old Testament scriptures [with which Paul was intimately familiar] are filled with references to such a duty. Many provisions are made in the word of God for the care of the poor. But not only so, Paul knew about the monumental task of bringing Jew and Gentile together in Christ, considering the enmity which had long characterized their interactions. Paul knew that collecting funds from the Gentiles to assist the poor saints of Judea (Jews), would be most helpful in uniting the two as the gospel message demanded (Gal 3:28). We will want to come back to this point as we conclude this article.
REMEMBER THE POOR! Let’s notice some of what the Lord has revealed to us about remembering the poor. It is stated that God regards the poor equally with the rich (Job 34:19). The fact is that both poor and rich are the product of His hands. Most people, if honest, will have to acknowledge that the rich are given more attention and respect than the poor. God’s word recognizes that such can even be a problem as we assemble for worship (James 2:1-8). These kinds of discrimination are not well pleasing to the Lord, nor are they Christ-like.
REMEMBER THE POOR! Why? Because God does not forget the poor (Ps 9:18).
Even if every single one of us forgets the poor and ignores this exhortation of Galatians 2:10, the poor will not be forgotten. Can we not see that one of the purposes of God’s word is His revelation of Himself to us. How thankful must we be to have such a written revelation which guides us to know what pleases and displeases our God! If we are to be pleasing to God, we must notice, pay attention to, the things that are characteristic of God. We are like God whenever we remember the poor.
REMEMBER THE POOR! Why? Because God maintains the right of the poor (Ps 140:12). For you or me to go up against the poor by disrespecting them or in some way abusing them, is for us to go up against the One Who maintains their right. Shall we find ourselves fighting against God?
REMEMBER THE POOR! Why? Because God delivers the poor (Job 36:15; Ps 35:10). Would we yield ourselves to be used by the Lord for the noble purpose of delivering the poor? Likely we all can look around us and find both those in relation to whom we find ourselves to be rich and poor in the world’s standard of measuring such. How important is it to be understanding and compassionate and teamed with God in helping to relieve those less fortunate then we? Really, how important is it to ME? When occasion arises that we can be used to help in delivering the poor, do we seize upon them, or let them pass? Further, do we search out such opportunities?
REMEMBER THE POOR! Why? Because God exalts the poor (1 Sam 2:8; Ps 107:41). In Hannah’s beautiful prayer to the Lord, she exalts Him with marvelous praise by drawing a strong contrast between the supposed mighty men and the Almighty God of heaven, who lifts the poor from the dunghill and exalts them as princes. Should we have concern for the poor? God does and it matters not what we have in this world’s goods, we owe it all to God (Js 1:17).
Now, let’s think back to one of the reasons Paul would have had no problem with the exhortation to remember the poor. He knew the expression of concern and caring would have an impact on the uniting of Jew and Gentile. Does it not make perfectly good since that we might use the same reasoning today? You see, the sins of men have separated them from God (Isa 59:1-2). They have a need of hearing the saving message of the gospel, and then obeying that message. How do we get their ears? How do we help them to listen to the message? One powerful way is to REMEMBER THE POOR! A powerful aid in our efforts to evangelize will be remembering the poor. In doing so, we align ourselves with a caring and loving God who has always REMEMBERED THE POOR!