Did you know there are people among us that are truly special and some of God’s favorite people? And that when you honor them, stand up for their rights, and care for them that God will bless you beyond measure?
Well, there are. They are what I’d like to call the forgotten royalty – the poor and oppressed. I believe every single one of us is special in our own right and every one of us matters to Jesus. His love doesn’t spare anyone. However, He also carves out a special place for those that are in poverty or being oppressed. In light of events here in our country (with regards to the government cutting food stamps), I believe the Word provides us specific instructions on how to treat the poor and oppressed, and how we as the Body of the Christ should conduct ourselves in a society that increasingly despises them.
31 Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker,
but he who is generous to the needy honors him.
Proverbs is full of advice on how to please God by honoring Him. One of the ways we can honor God is to be generous to the poor. In our society, wealthy people seemingly get more and more things on the basis of them having things. This is not hate against the wealthy; rather, it’s a statement that reflects our society’s treatment of those that already have wealth. Since the poor are the real royalty, we can flip that upside down by being generous to them and that honors Him.
Oh, you say we are already too generous with them? That we spend too much money on them already? That your tax dollars are being wasted? That they need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and work, so they can eat? Or stop having kids out of wedlock, go to school and make something of themselves? Unfortunately, those conditions are not in the Bible. In fact, God doesn’t require ANY conditions on why we give to the poor. We are supposed to give. Period. Consider:
15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”
16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
Jesus cuts off all excuse making in the passage above. Even though the disciples rightly concluded that they didn’t have anything to give (or it wasn’t going to be enough) and it was too late to get any food anyway, Jesus commanded them to do the right thing. Sometimes we think that the poor don’t really need food and are just ‘free-loading”, or, as I often hear, that they are wasting tax dollars on items other than food. That may or may not be the case, but Jesus doesn’t put conditions on our giving. Give and let God handle the rest.
Moreover, our true compassion shines through when we can give without conditions or what fits our ideology. Jesus modeled compassion in the above passage by healing those same people even though He was tired (Matthew 14:14) BEFORE performing the miracle of feeding them with fish and bread. Conditions can block the blessings of God.
16 He defended the cause of the poor and needy,
and so all went well.
Is that not what it means to know me?”
declares the Lord.
The verse above is fast becoming one of my favorite verses in the Bible. It truly captures the essence of worship through being an advocate of the poor. God is talking to Jeremiah and reminding him of how good King Josiah was to the poor and how blessed the people of Judah were because of their generosity to them. I believe our society can be just as prosperous as well. The causes of the poor should be a non-partisan issue. If we all say we love God and want to do right by Him, we shouldn’t ever talk about decreasing our aid to the poor. Our society should treat our poor just as well as we do our wealthy.
For example, in any organization (or government) there comes a time when certain programs or departments have to be cut, or downsized. The company or organization usually prioritizes who is more important and who should survive cuts and who shouldn’t. Every department that is on the chopping block always says that what they do is too important to be cut. In this case, God is right. The mission of defending the poor and oppressed IS too important to be cut. Moreover, I believe our society would prosper like no other if we embraced that mentality regarding the poor and cuts to programs. Instead of looking for ways to cut resources to the poor and needy we should be looking for ways to give more. Our compassion for their plight should never go in retreat.
Finally, the Lord declares, rhetorically, that THIS is what it means to “know” Him, or to be intimate with Him. Giving to the poor is another form of worship. Sometimes I wonder what I can do to be closer to Him in my walk and this verse spoke to me. Often times we think because we sing some worship songs on Sunday we have done “worship”. But God desires more – from every one of us.
I’m being challenged to consider knowing God in a more personal way. I’m praying I’m more attentive to the needs of the less fortunate because I want to continue to be blessed. Being obedient about standing up for God’s true royalty is the right thing to do. Selah.