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 who spoiled them. (Proverbs 22:22-23)
I read these verses again last week. Verses I've read hundreds of times. Yet in this reading they stuck out.
Rob not the poor, because he is poor.
How much social injustice is propagated because of an unchangeable characteristic? Poverty, race, sex, nationality.
We don't pick our skin color. We don't pick the country we are born in. We don't pick whether we are born male or female. And most people don't choose to be poor either.
The rich and the poor meet together; the Lord is maker of them all. (Proverbs 22:2)
Sometimes poverty is something the individual can do something about. Sometimes it isn't. Sometimes it isn't for me to make the judgement call on whether someone can or can't do something about their poverty.
Have you ever read any of Charles Dicken's novels? For the most part they aren't a very pleasant read. Death, poverty, brokenness. Charles Dickens confronted social injustices-particularly poverty. His readers are forced into one of 3 categories. The have nots. The oppressing haves. The compassionate haves.
And there is a big difference between sanctimonious do-gooders and people who are motivated by love.
I am confronted by my own heart attitudes. How often do I think to myself that the panhandlers should just get a job? How often do I speculate that someone's circumstances are the result of poor choices?
How guilty am I when held up to the mandates of this verse?
For the Lord will plead their cause and spoil the souls of those who spoil them.
God takes this very seriously. It surprises me how often the thoughts of poor people and oppression are in the same verses in the Bible. It was a major problem. And a major reason for judgement on individuals and nations.
He that oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker: but He (GOD) honors him that has mercy on the poor. (Proverbs 14:31)
It is rather sobering, and maybe a bit ugly.
Give to him that asks of thee...
No strings. No remonstrances. No nothings.
He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor. (Proverbs 22:9)
He that has mercy on the poor, happy is he. (Proverbs 14:21)
He that hath pity on the poor lends to the Lord; and that which he has given will He pay him again. (Proverbs 19:17)
For as much as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto Me. (Matthew 25:40)
Another Biblical author put it this way...do justly, love mercy, walk humbly. That is what the Lord requires. And rewards.
Moral of the story-you will not ever lose out in being kind and generous to the poor. Ever. No if's, and's or but's.