9 and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and them to the circumcised. 10 They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do. NKJV

REVIEW: Paul recognized among the apostles that James, Cephas or Peter, and John seemed to be the “recognized” leaders. It was those three that recognized the “grace” or gift that Paul and Barnabas had received from Jesus for the Gentiles. They extended to Paul and Barnabas the right hand of “fellowship.” In other words, Paul and Barnabas were welcomed into “the fellowship of the apostles.” That fellowship was centered in the same message of Christ that those original apostles had received from Jesus. King Jesus and His cross and resurrection was the message. Not the Law of Moses, not circumcision, and not any other man. Jesus alone is reigning as King. Messiah’s reign had begun over all the nations.

Paul and Barnabas were to go to the Gentiles and Peter to the Jews. Peter had not yet had his vision concerning the Gentile because that was yet to come in Acts 10. The apostles required only one thing to keep in mind, “remember the poor.” There was an eagerness to remember the poor.

Remembering the Poor:

JESUS FRAMED IT THIS WAY:  “Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see:  The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.  And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me” Matt 11:4-6 (NKJV).

THE RICH YOUNG RULER: Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” Matthew 19:21-22 (NKJV).

THE RIGHT PRIORITY: “And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon, the leper, a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table.  But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste?  For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor.” But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me.  For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always.  For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial.  Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her” Matthew 26:6-13 (NKJV).

We must understand heaven’s priorities. The poor are important to God, but Jesus is the answer to poverty, not the things of value such as goods and money.

I really like Mark 14:7.  It is the same story as in Matthew, but a little different take. “For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish, you may do them good, but Me you do not always have.” In Mark 14, Jesus reminds the disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her” Mark 14:6-9 (NKJV).

Paul made sure that the poor remained a high priority in his ministry. Look at Romans 15:25-29:

But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints. For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem. It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things. Therefore, when I have performed this and have sealed to them this fruit, I shall go by way of you to Spain. But I know that when I come to you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ” Romans 15:25-29 (NKJV).

Why did it please those saints at Macedonia and Achaia? They understood the debt owed the Jews at Jerusalem. Those saints laid the foundation for the entire world to receive Christ. These Gentiles saw themselves as “debtors” to the Christian Jews at Jerusalem. They understood that they had been partakers of their spiritual things; their duty is also to minister to them in material things. What a concept!

For this reason, we must pray for the Jews and help the poor among the Jews. It is because of the debt we Gentiles owe to them. It is because Jesus the Messiah came into the world through the Jews. It is because God made “one new man” of Jew and Gentile. He is not resurrecting Natural Israel as some teach; He redeemed Israel through Messiahs sacrifice and resurrection. But many Jews still have not received what God has done for them.

Here is another excellent “TENSON” of the New Testament, “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing 1 Corinthians 13:3 (NKJV). Giving to the poor must be done in the motivation of love to be in a New Testament context. In the New Testament, “LOVE’ is the motive for everything we are to do. We give, “not grudgingly nor of necessity, but by love.”

THE CHEERFUL GIVER EXPLAINED IN 2 Corinthians 9

6 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. 9 As it is written:

“He has dispersed abroad, and He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever” (Psalm 112:8).

Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! 2  Corinthians 9:6-15 (NKJV).

NO PARTIALITY IS TO BE SHOWN:

My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality.

Let’s be clear, “the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ has no place for “partiality!”

For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?

This forbidden partiality is a regular practice in “churches” today. What if we treated the rich and the poor the same as James is instructing us to do? What kind of transformation would this bring to our Lord’s church? “Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called? If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all” James 2:1-10 (NKJV).