Is it true that Jesus said we will always have poverty in the world? What did He mean by that? Does this mean we shouldn't even try to help people who are poor? I thought Christians were supposed to help people in need. — J.K.
You're probably thinking of Jesus' words in John 12:8: "You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me." His words were directed at Judas (who would soon betray Him), admonishing him because he was more interested in getting money for himself than in serving Jesus.
But Jesus wasn't saying we shouldn't fight poverty or help those in need—not at all. He was only giving a description of the way the world actually is, not the way it should be. The Bible repeatedly commands us to help the needy, and condemns those who take advantage of the poor. God told His people in the Old Testament, "I command you to be openhanded toward ... the poor and needy in your land" (Deuteronomy 15:11). Jesus told His disciples to "Sell your possessions and give to the poor" (Luke 12:33).
You and I live in the most prosperous society the world has ever seen—and yet hunger, homelessness and poverty are still a tragic reality for millions every day. At least half the world's population lives on the edge of survival because of the effects of poverty. How can we remain indifferent to their plight?
Ask God to show you ways you can help those whose lives are crushed by poverty. In addition, don't forget the greatest poverty of all—which is poverty of soul. Is Christ the center of your life, and are you seeking to tell others about the peace and joy He brings to all who open their hearts to Him?