Tag Archives: poor

Act Like a King

No one actually knows who King Lemuel was.  Some say that he was King of Massa, a northern Arabian nation, but no one knows for sure.  However, what we do know is that his mother (the Queen Mother?) gave him some interesting and good advice.  It is advice that we all can take to heart, especially if we live in a democratic republic, as I do here in the U.S.A.

When people think of Proverbs 31, they tend to think of the “Proverbs 31 woman”.  Not me.  That’s an afterthought.  My thoughts go straight to verses 8 and 9.

“Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy,” (ESV).

There are many in our nation–many in the world–who fit this description and we could absolutely exhaust ourselves on causes which often leads to virtue signaling (hey! look at me; I care about this and that and want the entire world to know even though in reality I’m not doing much).  This post isn’t about that at all.  It is however about making sure that we are not ignoring the plight of those who are poor, destitute, or without a voice.

There are more people out there like this than we may realize.  Often I will go on a tangent about something I believe to be an injustice. Abortion is one of those topics, but another is when a parent’s rights over their child, like Alfie Evans, are stripped away. These precious children have no voice, and the voices of Evans’s parents were being ignored. Why not speak up for their rights? I have the ability. I have a voice. I have a Twitter account and Facebook page; why not speak up?

But going beyond this, why not speak up when injustice is based upon race? When racism is known and seen, why would anyone keep their mouths closed? You see, we may not be king, but in the U.S.A. one does not need to be a king, but simply a citizen. Our rule is not based upon a monarchy, but upon the Constitution. That Constitution gives all an equal right to freedom of speech and to keep our statesmen and politicians accountable.  Our voice may be ignored, but that doesn’t dissolve us of the responsibility of speaking up.

It is no secret that the poor and needy are easily trampled upon. People take advantage of them constantly. As Christians we ought to speak up and defend their rights. One usually does not see a city or county declaring eminent domain upon the rich (I’m not saying it never happens, but it’s rare). It tends to happen upon the poor. And it is claimed that it is for the greater good, but it is not for the greater good of the person losing their home.  Casinos do not seem to ever be taken by the government, but little old widows’ home of 50 years are. Should a Christian ignore such a plight? Who’s going to listen to a little old widow? Not very many; but if Christians who believe in justice band together, their voices could and would be heard.

I have been studying Isaiah lately.  And I try to be careful not to equate the nation of Israel with the U.S., however, I do see a connection with the Church. Sadly, we can find that the way of Israel is followed by Christians.  Read carefully the scathing words of God to Israel in the first chapter of Isaiah.  God has just told the people that he abhors their sacrifices and their festivals and will not listen to their prayers.  Why? Because of their lack of care for justice.

Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
    remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
learn to do good;
seek justice,
    correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless,
    plead the widow’s cause.
Isaiah 1:16-17, ESV

Your princes are rebels
    and companions of thieves.
Everyone loves a bribe
    and runs after gifts.
They do not bring justice to the fatherless,
    and the widow’s cause does not come to them.
Isaiah 1:23, ESV

This was the condition of the city of Jerusalem–Zion!  The people ignored the plight of the poor, the destitute, the orphan, and the widow.  They said nothing and they did nothing.  And God saw their silence as complacency and complicity. Is the Church guilty of the same? I’d say it often is. We tend to “mind our own business,” rather than open our mouths for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute, and judge righteously, defending the rights of the poor and needy.

The Queen Mother wanted to make her son Lemuel a good king–a just king.  She tells him not to get distracted with promiscuous women, not to give himself to drinking and drunkenness, and to act with justice, sticking up for those who cannot stick up for themselves.  Imagine what kind of county and what kind of world we’d live in if Christians would act like this king.

Lend Your Money to God

God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, right?  All things belong to the Lord, right?  When we give an offering or a tithe, we are simply giving back to God a portion of what He already owns and has allowed us to steward.  So then, why am I telling you to lend your money to God? Simple; it is the wise thing to do.  After all, this is Wednesday Wisdom, and it would seem wise to lend to God.

Let me explain a bit further though.  Solomon wrote, “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed,” (Proverbs 19:17, ESV).  I want to quickly break this down into four parts and then bring it back together and get a full view of what Solomon was stating.

When Solomon used the word for generosity he isn’t referring simply to the physical act of giving.  He is referring to the inward desire to show compassion and grace to those who are less fortunate.  A superb example of this would be Boaz.  When Boaz met Ruth, she was a poor widow, gleaning grain from his fields. He spoke with her and instructed her to stay close to the other women, and not to go anywhere else, indicating he would take care of her needs.  He response: “Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, ‘Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner,'” (Ruth 2:10, ESV; italics mine)?  The word used for “favor” is the same root for Solomon’s word for generosity. Why have you shown such compassion?  Why are you so generous? Why have I found favor in your eyes?

Being “generous” is not simply throwing a $10 bill at someone on the street or by the exit ramp.  This is looking at the person with compassion, and seeking to do what you can to alleviate the suffering that they are in as they live in their poverty.

Which takes us to the second part: the poor here those living in poverty. I would suppose that poverty is a relative term.  What is poor in the United States is certainly not poor in Zimbabwe or Somalia.  On top of that, we do enjoy luxuries that have become necessities in the minds and hearts of many around us.  But there are necessities that people do have: food, clothing, shelter, companionship, etc.  It is to those needs that we are to find compassion in our souls, seeking to alleviate the lack.  We know that God continuously puts an emphasis on helping the poor throughout Scripture.  There were national laws that were set in place to make sure they were fed. James tells us that true religion is caring for the fatherless and the widow (as in those days, they were considered to be ones who could not care for themselves and so come to a state of poverty).

But how is this “lending to God” when He owns all? Understand, there is much we can do with our money, time, energy, etc. Giving up a Starbucks coffee to help someone buy bread is giving to God as much as giving to the poor. We are participating with God in the survival of those less fortunate. In much the same way we could say that all sin is only against God (Psalm 51), we can say that giving to the poor is giving to God.  While specifically speaking of believers, Jesus illustrated this concept of giving food, clothing, shelter, visiting the sick and imprisoned, was giving Him food, clothing, shelter, and visiting him when sick and imprisoned (cf. Matthew 25:31-46).  To do to one is to do to God and Christ.

Giving yes, but lending? This word is used because of the second part of the proverb: “and he will repay him for his deed.” It is the idea of repayment that brings the idea of lending.  We do without our money, time, energy, etc. for a while, but in the end it will be repaid in some way.  To give with the expectation and reality of repayment is in itself a loan.  Jesus reiterated this in Luke 6: “give, and it will be given to you.  Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you,” (v. 38, ESV).

What is given, God will be sure to bless back.  That may, may! be financial, but it may be in other ways.  The idea is not to get rich by “sowing a seed” or by “lending God money.”  The idea is to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work (Colossians 1:10).  Who can argue that living that way is not wise?

So let us have a giving-compassion within our hearts and souls toward those in poverty, knowing that by giving to them we are really in partnership with God in their survival and growth, and also knowing that when we live in such a manner worthy of the Lord, we will be blessed in return.