What is my attitude like concerning the poor, homeless and less fortunate? If I spend too much (or perhaps any) time listening to the afternoon talk shows hosts, I may find my mind being polluted with ideas that are unbiblical. I may find myself despising the poor. I may begin to think of myself as better than them.
Proverbs 19 (read each proverb once a day) presents a contrast between the rich and the poor that spoke to me this morning during my devotions. Verse 1 starts off by telling me that it would be better to be poor and keep my integrity than the opposite. Now that is something that has been nearly abandoned in the 21st Century. Scandals like the Enron incident are pointed reminders that many do not believe that walking in integrity is better than being poor or less rich.
Verse 4 states that people with money have many friends but the poor, as if being poor isn’t enough, also begin to lose friends the longer they are poor. Why is that? Do I have any poor friends is what I ask myself when I read that?
Then verse 7 states that poor people struggle at finding friends, can you imagine? Moreover, the proverb states that the relatives begin to hate them; no doubt they begin to be seen as a burden. Oh initially we may find joy in helping a poor family, but what about the 4th week of providing help, or what about the 7th week? We must guard against becoming weary. A healthy dose of the realization that it is the grace of God that has blessed us to the point of being able to help keeps everything in its proper perspective.
One commentator wrote concerning verse 7, “His efforts to find a friend are often unsuccessful because people avoid him.” My friends, the Holy Spirit spoke to me this morning in a clear manner about keeping my attitudes right about the poor.
In the book of James (ch. 2) the apostle is very sharp toward Christians who give more attention to a person who enters the auditorium dressed in a manner that shows he has money in comparison to the person who enters and immediately communicates by the clothes he or she is wearing I am poor. James states that to cater to the rich one while ignoring the poor one is a mockery of the commandment from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to love our neighbors as ourselves.
May God give us the grace to never despise the poor in our church or those entering our church. They are just as much a part of our family as the rich.
Walvoord, John F., Roy B. Zuck, and Dallas Theological Seminary. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983-c1985.