Summary: Caring for the poor is a basic tenant of the Christian faith. Here’s how to do it the Biblical way.

Remember The Poor Boxing Day 2004

Galatians 2:10

Nowadays when we think of "Boxing Day," the word "sale" almost immediately follows. But in it’s tradition Boxing Day is not about getting more stuff at reduced prices.

The Boxing Day tradition began in Britain possibly as early as in the Middle Ages; with regards to its origin, there are two main schools of thought. Some historians maintain that it began as a holiday tradition where house servants, who always had to work on Christmas days, were rewarded the day after. Their employers would put gifts such as food, clothing, or money in "Christmas boxes," which the servants would then take with them as they departed for family visits. Others say that Boxing Day is so named because churches collected money for the poor in wooden boxes and usually opened them to hand out alms on the day after Christmas. Today, Boxing Day is celebrated in most of the other English-speaking countries that include Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the United States being a notable exception.

December 26 is St. Stephen’s Day. St. Stephen was one of the seven original deacons in the Christian Church. The deacons were set in place to care for the poor widows in the early church.

The idea of serving the poor on St. Stephen’s day is highlighted in the Carol “Good King Wenceslas”

Serving the poor is a basic tenant of the Christian faith.

The Issue that leads up to Galatians 2

Very early on in the life of the church, a controversy arose. There were Jewish believers that taught that for non-Jewish people to be Christian, they also had to be Jewish. This meant that the men should be circumcised, and everyone should follow at least the basic Jewish ritual law. Paul argues that it is through Jesus death on the cross alone that we are saved, and to add anything to the cross is to remove the true work of the cross.

As Paul went around the Gentile world preaching the Gospel, and the people he calls the Judaizers were usually not far behind him. When Paul would leave the community of new believers, the Judaizers would move in teaching these new converts that to be truly saved, they needed to become Jewish to. Most of Paul’s letters are written with the conflict with the Judaizers in the background, but in the letter to the Galatians is comes to the foreground.

The Christian community in the region of Galatia have bought the Judaizers teaching hook line and sinker. Most of the letter to the Galatians is written refuting their argument. The Judaizers usually claimed that they had their authority from the Apostles in Jerusalem, so Paul explains his relationship with the apostles in Jerusalem in chapter 2:

Galatians 2

Paul Accepted by the Apostles

1Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. 2I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. But I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain. 3Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. 4This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. 5We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.

6As for those who seemed to be important–whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance–those men added nothing to my message. 7On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles,[a] just as Peter had been to the Jews.[b] 8For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles. 9James, Peter[c] and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. 10All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

If you had to tell a group of new Christians that there was one thing that they needed to remember besides the Cross of Christ and the filling of the Holy Spirit, what would it be?

One thing – remember the poor

Somewhere we have forgotten this basic tenant – that God loves the poor and so should we.

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