Saturday, March 29, 2014

Principle 1: The Poor and Weak Cannot Be Ignored

Wouldn't it be nice if someone gave us a list of principles to incorporate into our lives which would help us to walk uprightly and consistently find favor in the eyes of God?  Well, guess what - Solomon did that for us!  He gave us a list of 30 principles to guide us along the way.  Here is what he had to say as he introduced them:   Listen carefully to my wisdom; take to heart what I can teach you.  You’ll treasure its sweetness deep within; you’ll give it bold expression in your speech.  To make sure your foundation is trust in GodI’m laying it all out right now just for you.  I’m giving you thirty sterling principles—tested guidelines to live by.  Believe me—these are truths that work, and will keep you accountable to those who sent you.  (Proverbs 22:17-21 MSG) Now, if someone is willing to take the time to outline these principles for us with the intention of making sure our foundation is trust in God, doesn't it seem like we should probably explore these principles and see how we can incorporate them into our lives?  In fact, when we begin to outline these for ourselves, we find they will provide a foundation by which we will be held accountable for our actions.  Now, that is something we all need!

Don’t walk on the poor just because they’re poor, and don’t use your position to crush the weak, because God will come to their defense; the life you took, he’ll take from you and give back to them.  (Proverbs 22:22-23 MSG)

Principle number one deals with the "poor" and the "weak" and our attitude toward them.  It seems odd that Solomon would start with how we deal with the poor and the attitude of heart we truthfully have toward their need, but if we examine this one closely, we might just see this as an appropriate place to begin.  He is pointing us toward our heart attitude - how we see ourselves in comparison to others and how we use that perception to either meet or ignore the needs of those around us.  God's command to us is to love him first, then to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.  How we view another in "comparison" to how we view ourselves can tell us a lot about our attitude of heart.  If we see ourselves as more fortunate, better positioned, or even "above" another, we have some work which needs to be done in our hearts. No man or woman created by our heavenly Father has any better or worse "position" in God's eyes.  We are all his creation - we all have needs - our needs just differ.  To judge another by their "position" or their intensity of "need" is just not what God wanted any of us to do.  Rather, he wants us to be sensitive to the needs of others - regardless of their "status" in this life.

When we see another's need as something we have an opportunity to meet, we are serving that individual as Christ would expect us to.  When that need is outside of our ability to meet in the material, physical, or emotional sense, then we still have an opportunity and obligation to bring that need before the throne of God on behalf of that individual.  There are varying degrees of being "poor" and / or "weak".  Being "poor" simply means we are lacking in something we have need of - it could be material (such as finances), physical (such as a place to live), emotional (such as a friend to walk alongside us), or even spiritual (such as when we just need someone to help us connect with God on a matter).  To ignore the needs of anyone who has a "lack of what is needed" is to "walk on them" as scripture puts it.  When we walk on another, we are treating them as though their need is beneath us - not important to us or to the Christian community at large.

We all have varying degrees of weakness, as well.  To ignore another's weakness is to open many a door to issues within our community.  For example, if I know your weakness to be a struggle with alcohol and I continually offer you a glass of wine when we dine together, I am being insensitive to your area of weakness in your life.  You may be in the process of being redeemed from your struggle with alcohol, but my insensitivity to your "former" area of weakness is really showing an attitude of being uncaring.  We have an obligation to understand the areas of weakness another may struggle with in life - for only then may we step up to be an encouragement and a life-line for their healing and recovery.

Yes, we have "poor" and "weak" all around us and at times, the finger points at us, as well.  Our attitude of heart is manifest in how well we interpret their need and our responsiveness to meet that need if it is within our ability.  If not, then we are at least under an obligation to bring their need before God for his intervention.  What Solomon starts with is the sense of "community" we all need to build - not ignoring anyone within our influence.  If we maintain a heart ready to reach out to those in need or just simply weak in some respect, we are standing ready to serve as Christ's ambassadors.  This indeed is what will thrill the heart of God.  Just sayin!

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