What about the poor?

Scripture reading for February 25: Deuteronomy 12-16

In many cultures, the poor and needy are viewed as under the judgment of the gods.  These people are despised and live in the worst conditions on the fringes of society.  Children born in the families are destined to live in poverty, sickness, and usually have an early death. India has millions living in the caste system and viewed as nearly untouchable by their peers. The Hindu religion and the teaching of reincarnation and this caste system keeps the bondage in place.

The God of the Bible, creator of heaven and earth, is compassionate and merciful.  When He formed the nation of Israel and delivered them from slavery, He instructed them in the care of those society had looked down upon.  The orphans and widows were singled out for care by the Lord.   (Deuteronomy 14:28-29)  God promised to bless the Israelites for caring for them.  The alien was also to be cared for, because the Israelites were also aliens and strangers in Egypt and could identify with what it felts like to be in a strange culture and on the outside of the economic and political power system.

God said that there should be no poor among His people, however. (Deuteronomy 15:4)  The reason given was that if they fully obeyed the Lord in keeping all His commands, God would so bless them that they would have an abundance to help others.  They would lend only and not borrow. (Deuteronomy 15:6)  They would also rule and not be in servitude. “The rich rule over the poor, the borrower becomes the slave of the lender.” (Proverbs: 22:7)  This is God’s heart desire for His people. (3 John 2)

God seems to contradict Himself later in Deuteronomy 15:11.  He only seems to because here God is telling the Israelites not all will fully obey.  Some will be poor and they will need help.  Those who are fully obeying the Lord are to be generous with the poor.  They are not to be “tight-fisted” or “hard-hearted” towards their poor brothers, but are to be “open-handed” and “freely lend”.  (Deuteronomy 15:7-10)  God even goes so far as to say it is sin to be stingy toward the poor brother!  He is indicating His care for those who are truly needy. God always pays well when we help the poor.  We can’t outgive God!

“A generous man will prosper and he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25)

“He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their maker, but he who is kind to the needy honors God.” (Proverbs 14:31)

“He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward him for what he has done.” (Proverbs 19:17)

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