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  • Writer's pictureOlufunmilayo Adekusibe

GOD’S CONCERN FOR THE POOR/ NEEDY


 

Today’s Reading:

Jeremiah 22: 11-17

“He judged the cause of the poor and needy, then it was well with him; was not this to know me? saith the Lord”. (v16)

 


A general description in the scriptures of a poor person is - an individual who does not have the provisions of financial capabilities to fulfill the minimum essential/ basic necessities of life. It is essentially material/ economic poverty. One could be spiritually poor, that is, poor in spirit, as Jesus referred to in Matthew 5:3. This is one who sees himself/herself as he/she is, humbled before God, realizing own sin and spiritual emptiness and poverty.


The King James version Dictionary definition of “poor” is - wholly destitute of property or not having property sufficient for a comfortable subsistence.

The word “needy” is said to be an adjective of “poor” and comprises – the poor, homeless, orphans, widows. Some of the common characteristics of these groups are hunger and starvation, lack of basic amenities (like shelter, clothe, money) helplessness, so in need of support, defenseless, exposed and at the mercy of others. It is no wonder that our loving Father and God is particularly concerned about these groups of people. In order to create awareness and emphasize his concern for them, the scriptures are full of God’s commands and deliberate actions in favour of these group of people. Before the children of Israel entered the Promised Land, God informed them, surprisingly, in Deut. 15:11 that,” the poor shall never cease out of the land”, He, therefore commanded them to open their hands wide to their brothers that are poor and the needy in their land. Other commands from God in respect of the needy is found in Ex. 22:22, where the people were warned not to afflict any widow or fatherless child; in Deut. 14:29, the people were instructed by God to allow the strangers, fatherless, widows, poor within their gates, to eat and be satisfied, so that He may bless all the work of their hands, God instructed Zechariah in Zech. 7: 10, to speak to the people not to oppress the widow, nor the fatherless, the strangers nor the poor.


Knowing that the poor and the needy could easily be cheated out of their rights, God spoke throughout the Scriptures about justice to and judgement in favour of these groups of people. In Malachi 3:5 and Jer. 20:16, God said He would come in judgement and be a witness against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, fatherless, and strangers, turning them away from their rights. Deuteronomy 27:19 records that anyone who perverse judgement of the stranger, fatherless and widow would be cursed. It is no wonder then that God, who in Psalm 68: 5 is referred to as the Father of the fatherless and judge of the widows, decided to execute judgement and acted the way He did in our Today’s reading in verse 12, against King Shallum of Judah. It is said in verse 13 that he built his house by unrighteousness, by using his neighbours service without wages and did not give him anything for his labour/work. While God said woe to this King, He compared him to his father, king Josiah, who was said to have done judgement and justice during his time. In verse 16, it is said that he judged the cause of the poor and needy, then it was well with him. On the contrary, King Shallum was to die in exile (v. 12) as his punishment and judgement.


In the New Testament also, many references are made in favour of the poor and the needy. In Proverbs 19:17 it is said that whoever gives to the poor, loans to God. Paul in his letter to Timothy encouraged the believers to honour the widows. Apostle James in James 1:22 admonished the believers that pure religion and undefiled before God is to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction. Our Lord Jesus, like the Father, was concerned about the poor when He was on earth. In Mark 12: 41-45, it is recorded that Jesus noticed a poor widow whom He praised because He said she cast more into the treasury than all others, since she cast in all she had, even all her living. Jesus’ compassion was shown in Luke 7: 11-15, when He asked a widow whose son had dead, to weep not, and then said to the man to arise. The man arose and spoke and was handed over to his mother.


As believers, what should be our reactions to what God is concerned about?

No doubt, we should be very concerned as He is, especially as this would please him, we will be blessed in the works of our hands (Jer. 22:15-16, Deut. 24:19). Gladly enough, the Scriptures tell us that showing concern or compassion to the poor and the needy will earn us blessings and it will be well with us (Jer. 22:15-16; Deut. 24:19).

CHRISTIE KUPOLUYI


 

Prayer:

  1. Father, we appreciate your love, concern, and compassion for the poor and the needy on the earth, thank You in Jesus name.

  2. O Lord, we thank You for showing us the example of compassion for the poor and needy when you were on the earth, in Jesus name.

  3. Father, teach us to love what you love, and be concerned for what you are concerned about, in Jesus name.

  4. O Lord, stir Your Church to show concern for the poor and the needy in the world, in Jesus name.

  5. Father, stir the hearts of the national leaders to show concern for the poor and the needy in the land, in Jesus name.

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