“Thus says the Lord: ‘For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, Because they sell the righteous for silver, And the poor for a pair of sandals.’” (Amos 2:6 NKJV)
Amos turned the “Amen Corner” and I can imagine that the Israelites weren’t happy as their “Amens” turned to “Oh mes.” When Jeroboam set up his own altars so that the Israelites wouldn’t “need” to go to Jerusalem, he may have helped his people fulfill an inner longing to worship, but they lost the moral standards that God had taught them during their wilderness sojourn and after. (Judah wasn’t doing too well either, but at least the teaching was there.) One of the most significant ways to tell that Israel had disconnected from God was that they oppressed and exploited those who were poor.
Many years ago I head some students talking about another student who had preached in preaching lab. He was said to have used someone else’s sermon instead of his own. The biggest clue, aside from the quality, was that he would stop the flow and ask, “Is that ‘Amen’ or ‘Oh me?’” The original preacher had obviously gotten a lot of positive response, but he wanted people to realize that it wasn’t “those other people” he was talking about. The truth of the matter is that one way to tell that Christians have lost track of their commitment to Jesus Christ when they oppress or take advantage of people who are poor, no matter what the cause, or worse, when we ignore their existence all together. Some try to make the case that since the government takes care of the poor, that means we help them with our taxes. Without getting into the politics of that, our obligation to help still exists. Alone, we can’t help everyone, but if each individual Christian, each church, would find a way to help people in need, we’d see a different world. Find some way to help those in poverty today.
Lord, there are so many people in financial poverty today. Give me wisdom enough to find a way to help others in financial need. Teach me to show Your love and grace to those in financial poverty and spiritual poverty.