Acts 5:1-16; Deuteronomy 23-24; Job 15
God cares for people who are in poverty. That seems like an obvious statement because we all do that, right? We pay our taxes that help give money to people in need. In truth, though, when we pay our taxes, we pay our taxes we grumble a lot; we think of those we’ve heard about cheating the system, and we probably have a few negative comments on those who are materially poor. When we support people in financial poverty only by throwing money at the problem, we are doing more harm than good in the long run. When the Bible speaks about dealing with poverty there are a couple of guidelines. Money is lent at no interest, not just thrown at people. Money lent, is expected to be paid back. “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. Stay outside and let the man to whom you are making the loan bring the pledge out to you.” (Deuteronomy 24:10-11) But, money lent was also subject to a year of jubilee when all debts were cancelled. When money was lent, the dignity of the person involved was to be respected. You wouldn’t invade their house to get their pledge – you would wait in respect. As we read further, we would note that a pledge that involves a cloak should not be kept overnight – it might put undue hardship on the person in poverty. Wages would be paid daily. (That might be hard in today’s system with taxation, but something could be arranged.) Those with lands, growing crops were to allow for people in financial poverty to gather leftovers from the fields. If a farmer missed harvesting something, it was left for people in need to gather – work being a part of maintaining their dignity. God’s plan is to maintain dignity and work towards recovery. We have a long way to go if we are to restore this sense of dignity to those in financial poverty. The first step we need to take is to repent of our spiritual poverty that makes us think that we have all the answers and seek God’s plan.
Lord, it’s so easy to look on people in poverty as a group. Remind me that each of the members of that group is a person with unique strengths and talents. Help me work to draw those abilities out and bring restoration to those in financial need. Help me repent of the idea that because I have material goods, I am automatically spiritually rich and help me find that richness in others as we work together.