Monday, March 01, 2010

2010 – Mar. 1 – Dignifying the Poor

Study from God’s Word Num. 5: 5-10; Exod. 22: 7-17; Ex. 21: 33-34, 28; Ex. 21: 28-36; Lev. 24: 18, 21a; Deut. 22: 8; Lev. 19: 13; Deut. 24: 14-15; Lev. 25: 44-46; Deut. 23: 12-18; Ex. 21: 1-11, 26-27; Deut. 23: 19-20; Ex. 22: 25-27; Deut. 24: 12-13; Deut. 24: 6; Deut. 24: 10-11; Deut. 15: 1-11; Lev. 19: 12; Num 20: 1-16; Lev. 19: 11, 35-37; Deut 25: 15-16; Deut. 21: 15-17; Deut 25: 5-10; Num. 27: 1-11; Num. 36: 1-13; … Passage for Reflection: Deuteronomy 24: 10 – 11 … NIV 10 When you make a loan of any kind to your neighbor, do not go into his house to get what he is offering as a pledge. 11 Stay outside and let the man to whom you are making the loan bring the pledge out to you.

My Journal for Today: Today, in my study, Dr. Smith, in a rather long reading session, had me wading through many of the civil laws dispensed by God through Moses to help the people in those times of Theocracy, which had singled out the Hebrews to be unlike any culture or society on earth to that point in history. God was setting them apart, i.e., anointed them, for His purposes; and the laws the Lord had for them were at times complex and specific, … at times very general and common sense oriented. But they were dealing with how mankind must interact in ways that glorified their God above the selfish nature of mankind.

One of the aspects of all these laws shows the mercy of God in sparing the dignity of His children when they are stripped of that dignity by poverty; and this was highlighted by today’s study passage concerning how the poor, who could not pay their debt, would be handled by those who were the lenders or land-lords. And herein we see a dilemma which plays out even today. As Jesus said, thousands of years later than Moses was living, we will always have the poor [see Matt. 26: 11]; but how we treat them in their poverty is what God’s Law was focused on in this highlighted study for today; and it’s what Jesus was dealing with in the context of the poor woman who lavished expensive perfume on Jesus to honor Him.

So, how do we personally, and as a society, handle the poor? Do you recoil, as I do, when pan-handlers are pushing you for donations with a sign on a corner in traffic which reads, “Homeless, please help!” Or another which reads, “Will work for food.” Do you immediately, as I have in the past, refuse to give, assuming that this is some drunk trying to ply a few bucks from you so that he can turn it into a bottle of cheap wine to satisfy his addiction? What do we, as Christians, do to help the poor when we live so securely and satisfied in our warm, well-fed homes and there are so many out there who will be sleeping in their cars in the cold tonight? And how do we reach out to help the poor in a way, as today’s study suggests, that we help them to retain their dignity, which has to suffer when any person is to the point of being evicted or cast into a state of homelessness?

Wow. This is a tough one. Because we’re all confronted with individual cases, like the ones I mentioned above on the street corners; but there are many others, that are bigger in social scope, that these street-corner beggars. So, we must ask ourselves what the Church and what our government is doing to give those some sense of dignity and to help them find a hand up and not so much a hand out. Easier said than done, isn’t it?

I must admit I will continue to be convicted and confronted with this dilemma beyond this morning’s devotional; and I can only pray that when I’m at least confronted, on an individual basis, that I will look to God’s Spirit to guide me in doing what I feel is right and what my Lord is leading me to do in that moment.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, help me to do what You taught in reaching out to serve You when I see the least of those who really need my help. Amen

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