Remember the Poor
The Bible contains more than 400 verses on the poor, social justice, and God’s deep concern for both. This is why at GNT, we do, what we do.
As you read these passages, you will very likely feel a good deal of resistance or indifference. Our First World lifestyle has departed strongly from Biblical values that we say we believe in, and we have even created rationalizations like — “the Prosperity theology”– “the Faith without works theology” –” I support my Church theology”– and
overlooking and forgetting the passages that challenge us about the poor. It takes time and reflection to get past these misconceptions.
Try to get past these resistances. Spiritual growth doesn’t come from what goes down easily, or what we like to hear and read. It comes from what’s different, and even difficult.
But we find the biggest resistance in the First World, are questions of corruption, accountability and transparency.
And that is why we support missionaries, men & women of God who sold everything they had, gave it to the poor and followed Jesus into a world of poverty, affliction and oppression; a world of widows, orphans and the disabled; a world of the hungry, the sick, those in jail and those forgotten.
Through them, they bring the compassion, love, understanding, patience and the characteristics of Christ.
Not just part time, but full time; not from luxury surroundings, but living in the same conditions as his flock; he brings uncompromising Faith in Jesus Christ, justice for the poor and compassion to anyone of any color and any faith without judging and without exception; never stopping, never on vacation or holidaying, but always working for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and HIS Church.
God’s concern for the poor
In our First World lifestyles and Church’s, we often forget poverty and oppression, it is clear from the Bible that they are always on God’s mind.
Luke 4:16-21. And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read… “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He appointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favorable year of the LORD… Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Ps. 140:12. I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and justice for the poor.
Is. 25:4. For You have been a defense for the helpless, a defense for the needy in his distress.
Ps. 10:14. The unfortunate commits himself to You; You have been the helper of the orphan… O LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear to vindicate the orphan and the oppressed.
Is 41:17. The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst. I, the LORD, will answer them Myself, as the God of Israel I will not forsake them.
Luke 6:20-21. Blessed are you who are poor, for yours in the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
James 2:5. Did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?
I think it’s fair to say that our First World lifestyles and Church attitudes toward the poor— and perhaps not just in the First World — is mostly disdain and fear, even blindness. They’re dangerous and different. Sometimes there’s a suspicion that their condition is their own fault, that they’re simply lazy or inferior. Other First World Christians and Churches are more kind-hearted, but prefer not to look at the poor too closely; it’s depressing, and they’re surely not fun people to be involved with.
These attitudes are a world away from God’s attitudes, as described in these verses. Neediness arouses compassion in God– and action.
We may think: “Of course God loves the poor; he loves everybody.” But it’s not so simple as that; God’s character is presented as a model for our own. If God values the poor, we have to think about what that means for us.
God’s commands concerning the poor
This section collects some specific commands from Old and New Testaments on serving the poor.
Deut. 15:7. If there is a poor man among you, one of your brothers, in any of the towns of the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand to your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks.
Lev. 19:19ff. Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, neither shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the LORD your God.
Is. 58:66ff. Is this not the fast which I choose, to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into the house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Jer. 22:3. Do justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor. Also do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger, the orphan, or the widow; and do not shed innocent blood in this place.
Luke 12:33. “Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves purses which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near, nor moth destroys.”
Luke 3:11. And