What about the poor?

Scripture reading for February 25: Deuteronomy 12-16

In many cultures, the poor are viewed as under the judgment of the gods.  These people are often despised and live  in desperate 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 ” untouchable”.  The Hindu religion, the teaching of reincarnation, and the caste system perpetuates the bondage.

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 to care for those the world had looked down upon.  The orphans and widows were noted by God for special care.   (Deuteronomy 14:28-29)  God promised to bless the Israelites for caring for them.  The alien was also to be cared for.  His people could identify with what it felts like to be in a strange culture and on the outside of the economic and political power system from their stay in Egypt.

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 rule and not be in servitude or poverty.

God seemed to contradict Himself later in Deuteronomy 15:11. But here God was teaching the Israelites that not all would  fully obey.  Some would be poor and need help.  Those who were fully obeying the Lord were to be generous with the poor.  They are not to be “tight-fisted” or “hard-hearted” towards their poor brothers, but were to be “open-handed” and “freely lend”.  (Deuteronomy 15:7-10)  God told them that it was sinful to be stingy toward the poor brother!   If we will help the poor, God will richly repay!

“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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