Tag Archives: Poor

Social Justice with God’s Justice

Here is a dangerous post for this day and age.

Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more. -Proverbs 31:6-7, KJV

It certainly sounds as though Scripture is calling for helping the poor and needy to get drunk. So, when you see the panhandler and the homeless begging for money, just get them that drink you know they are just gonna buy, anyway!

Or …

We can remember that this passage is speaking of the wise ruler avoiding such things, to “Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.” (Titus 2:6)

As co-heirs with Christ, we are to remain sober and help others to come to sober-mindedness in all things, but we must not be judgmental of those who feel the need to drown their sorrows.

Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy. . . . She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. -Proverbs 31:8-‬9‭, ‬20 KJV

Michael also spoke to this this week. It should be the job of the Christian man and woman to help those in need and “be a voice for the voiceless.” (And remember that the original meaning of dumb was “mute” or “voiceless”, not stupid.)

I am not one for going after “social justice” as it is called today. This modern movement has a tendency to forget the most important aspect in its desire to be all-inclusive, and a reason I like the King James translation of this passage: the Gospel.

The “social justice movement” has a tendency to meet physical needs yet ignore the underlying problems or blow those problems out of proportion. To “open thy mouth for the dumb . . . as are appointed for destruction” reminds us that we need to tell a fallen and messed up world that they are headed for Hell without faith in Christ.

Should we stand up for the poor? Absolutely.

The drunk and drug addicted? Without question.

The “minority” of non-whites (as well as mistreated whites) around the world? Undeniably.

Even the homosexual, transgender, and queer? Yes, yes, and yes.

But we do so while remembering that they are all poor in righteousness, hopelessly sinful in their natural state, and in need of a Savior.

We are to be peacemakers and show this world love and charity.

And we are to share the Gospel.

To do otherwise (on both counts) is to play God and condemn their souls to destruction. To have social justice without revealing God’s justice is unloving and cruel.

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The Cries of the Poor

Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard. -Proverbs 21:13, KJV

I have pretty much always been a compassionate person. There was a time, however, when I followed a party line and believed the poor must have done something to deserve it.

This is especially crazy knowing my family went through a time when we almost ended up homeless, wondering if there was enough food to feed the five of us each day.

Personal Rebuke

But God sent me a bit of a rebuke, and in late 2007 through early 2008 I spent most nights on the streets of metro-area Phoenix. If you can not learn more compassion for others when alongside them, you are truly hard of heart.

I was fortunate (though my parents worried like crazy), but others may not be.

Throughout Scripture, God sets His expectation for His people: to love the widows, orphans, and the poor.

In the literal understanding, help those who do not have enough. This is loving your neighbor.

Deeper Cries

The deeper understanding is to help those who are spiritually poor. Help them find the truth of who Christ is. Feed their spirit and mind with God’s Word.

To not do so is to condemn them – and yourself – to eternal death and judgment, to cries of the poor who will never find rest. That is why to ignore the cries of the poor will lead to your own crying that will not be heard.

Believe in and share Christ and be saved.


Am I mocking the poor?

Jesus is clear that we will always have poor people with us. We always have. We always will. That isn’t the issue.

Whoever mocks poor people insults their Creator; gloating over misfortune is a punishable crime. ~King Solomon

Source: Proverbs 17:5 (The Message Bible)

Jesus challenges me to give directly to the poor. I am to do what I can to help. God’s goal for me is to love. Jesus challenges me to not judge. I don’t need to understand why someone is poor. God knows why.

Insulting and mocking the poor is insulting God. It is wrong and it is criminal. It is a moral failure on my part when I do it. I will be held accountable for what I say and do. I will be held accountable to God’s standard of love.

We should assess our leaders on their attitude about the poor. Do they love the poor? Do they help the poor? Do they “judge” the motives of the poor?

“Misfortune” does happen. It is possible, to get laid off from work and become poor. I shouldn’t gloat over that. My goal is to love.

I believe that Jesus wants us to do everything we can to help the poor and those who do not have a place to live. We are to care for the hungry and feed them. We are to care for the thirsty and give them something to drink.We are to care for the stranger and invite them into our home. We are to care for the naked and give them clothing. We are to care for the sick. We are to care for those in prison and visit them. These are the clear expectations of Jesus (Matthew 25:34-40).

  • As Jesus remarked to Judas Iscariot, ‘You always have the poor with you’ (John 12:8). Looking around at the cities, towns and refugee camps of our world, we might make this remark more specific and say, ‘we always have the homeless with us.’ Jesus had some powerful things to say about the situation of the homeless, and did many things for them. He was also a homeless person himself.
  • The Bible speaks plainly about poverty: “If any of your Israelite relatives fall into poverty and cannot support themselves, support them as you would a resident foreigner and allow them to live with you. Do not demand an advance or charge interest on the money you lend them. Instead, show your fear of God by letting them live with you as your relatives” (Leviticus 25:35-36 ).
  • “No, the kind of fasting I want calls you to free those who are wrongly imprisoned and to stop oppressing those who work for you. Treat them fairly and give them what they earn. I want you to share your food with the hungry and to welcome poor wanderers into your homes. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. If you do these things, your salvation will come like the dawn. Yes, your healing will come quickly. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind” (Isaiah 58:6-8).
  • Then the King will say to those on the right, `Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ Then these righteous ones will reply, `Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?’ And the King will tell them, `I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’” (Matthew 25:34-40).
  • So many people ignore the poor and homeless, partly because they believe there is little they can do to “fix” them. And they are absolutely right. In fact, it is not God’s intention that we “fix” them any more than it is His intention that they “fix” us. It is God’s intent that they follow Jesus as their King and savior.
  • Jesus tells us that we are one body in the Messiah. Everyone — rich, poor, every race, every age — has a legitimate role to play in that body. We may go to a homeless camp or an orphanage or a rest home with the intention of helping someone else, but ultimately, we will be helping each other grow together into the body the Messiah envisioned from the beginning of time.

Truth Revealed

Proverbs 29:13

The poor and the deceitful man meet together: the Lord lighteneth both their eyes. (KJV)
The poor and the oppressor have this in common: The Lord gives sight to the eyes of both. (NASB)

Plain meaning

This verse obviously has an upfront meaning: God, as Creator, gives sight to people of every social status. It makes sense.

One thing that comes into conflict with this meaning, however, is that some people are born blind or are blinded in the course of life.

Suddenly the plain meaning seems tricky in certain circumstances. Though we should remember that proverbs are generalized statements, but perhaps there is a deeper meaning.

Plain truth

In Romans 1, Paul tells us:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse

What all of this is saying is that God has given us the ability to see what is going on around us – to discern what is right, what is wrong, and that God is real and in control.

God has revealed His truth throughout Creation and especially in His Son, Jesus Christ.

He has “lighteneth” all of our eyes, allowed us to see what is plain. He has enlightened us.

What are we doing with this knowledge? What are we doing with this sight?

Lord, open our hearts to what our eyes can see. Help us to accept the truth that is evident. Help us to trust and believe You.


Oppressing the Poor

Proverbs 22: 22-23 

Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate: For the Lord will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them.
Do not exploit the poor because they are poor
 and do not crush the needy in court, for the Lord will take up their case and will exact life for life. (NIV)

Once again the writer challenges our attitudes to the poor. How we treat those who are poorer than us, or even weaker than us is important. Most of us would probably read this proverb and think that it doesn’t apply to us personally because we haven’t robbed or oppressed anybody. Perhaps we haven’t, but are we sure? What about times we have failed to stand up for someone? Take it right back to the school playground where it was easier to walk away than stand up for a fellow pupil facing ridicule or even physical violence. I can remember thinking ‘rather him than me’ on more than one occasion.

Then there is the work place. When I joined the Merchant Navy as a sixteen-year-old cadet it was made perfectly clear to me that I was at the bottom of the pecking order. The chief officer on my first ship used to shout at me regularly, perhaps because he had been treated the same way when he was starting his career. I remember the captain sticking up for me one day and the treatment I received improved a little after that. A few years later when I was an officer I found myself speaking up for a young Rastafarian able seaman who was assigned to my watch. In this case the bosun and another seaman were making this young man’s life a misery, with the knowledge of the chief officer! He had nobody to plead his case until I stepped in. I did not make myself popular in the process, but I could not ignore what was going on.

Oppression takes many forms. Read through these verses again – there is a significant warning in verse 22. Is God challenging you about your attitude to others, or is He calling you to take a stand in someone’s defense today?


Oppressing the Poor

Proverbs 22: 22-23 

Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate: For the Lord will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them.
Do not exploit the poor because they are poor
 and do not crush the needy in court, for the Lord will take up their case and will exact life for life. (NIV)

Once again the writer challenges our attitudes to the poor. How we treat those who are poorer than us, or even weaker than us is important. Most of us would probably read this proverb and think that it doesn’t apply to us personally because we haven’t robbed or oppressed anybody. Perhaps we haven’t, but are we sure? What about times we have failed to stand up for someone? Take it right back to the school playground where it was easier to walk away than stand up for a fellow pupil facing ridicule or even physical violence. I can remember thinking ‘rather him than me’ on more than one occasion.

Then there is the work place. When I joined the Merchant Navy as a sixteen-year-old cadet it was made perfectly clear to me that I was at the bottom of the pecking order. The chief officer on my first ship used to shout at me regularly, perhaps because he had been treated the same way when he was starting his career. I remember the captain sticking up for me one day and the treatment I received improved a little after that. A few years later when I was an officer I found myself speaking up for a young Rastafarian able seaman who was assigned to my watch. In this case the bosun and another seaman were making this young man’s life a misery, with the knowledge of the chief officer! He had nobody to plead his case until I stepped in. I did not make myself popular in the process, but I could not ignore what was going on.

Oppression takes many forms. Read through these verses again – there is a significant warning in verse 22. Is God challenging you about your attitude to others, or is He calling you to take a stand in someone’s defense today?


Under Another

Proverbs 22:7

The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.

Buying a House

My wife and I just bought our first house.

Technically, it is not really ours, because we have to pay the bank for buying it for us. That means, for up to 30 years, the bank owns our house.

During that time, the bank owns our money. We have to give to them, or they can take from us our dwelling place! We serve them until the debt is paid.

Emotional Dependency

Banks may have financial superiority over many a homeowner, but there are other ways people control others.

The emotionally weak person will be either controlled by those who are more out of control of their emotions or inadvertently control their relationships out of their need.

The former situation has the person whose emotions are all over the place seeking power over the weaker person. They are rich in emotional intensity that they cannot control, therefore they control someone else.

The latter situation has the emotionally needy person draining others’ time and emotions. In this sense, it can be seen as the one rich in need has control over the person poor of need.

Neither is morally justifiable, but it happens all the time.

Moral Superiority

We all find ourselves in some emotional or moral need from time to time or for our entire lives.

There is One who is in perfect control of His emotions, and, though completely sovereign, He does not force us to obey Him, but He calls all people to repentance and forgiveness.

God wants us to live godly lives, not lives of manipulation of strong over weak.

Heavenly Father, help us to be good stewards of all that You have entrusted to us: finances, possessions, emotions, and each other. Guide us by the Holy Spirit into all righteousness, and rule over our hearts with Your grace and love.