Posts Tagged ‘poor’
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter?” Isaiah 58:6-7
This has always been a really inspirational Bible verse about helping the poor to me. It was written to a group of people who thought that they were righteous because of their religious activities, things like memorizing scripture, fasting, and attending church. In my own life, I’ve often measured my righteousness by how many “religious” activities I do. But that’s just backward. It doesn’t matter how much I go to church or read my Bible. If it’s not causing me to become a better man, the kind of man who looks after the poor and the oppressed, then it doesn’t matter anyway.
God is more happy when I help the poor and the oppressed than when I do my religious duties like praying and going to church. Though these things are important too, without compassion for the poor and oppressed, spending time reading the Bible and praying doesn’t really have a point. If my relationship with God hasn’t changed my heart so that I have compassion on the poor and oppressed, then I’m obviously missing something. It’s like Jesus said to the Pharisees, how they give a tenth of their money and spices to God, but they have neglected the more important matters, things like justice and faithfulness.
“Religion that God our father counts as pure and faultless is this, to look after widows and orphans in their distress, and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27
This is a pretty amazing Bible verse. It breaks everything down into simple terms. If all you do is help the poor and keep yourself from being polluted by the world, then you’re doing everything that God requires of you. Seems simple enough. But how many of us actually live like this? How often do we think about the poor? How often do we try and rid ourselves of all the entanglements of the world — material possessions, worldly pleasures, and things that won’t ever really bring us happiness. Most of us live for our own happiness, trapped in the mire of the world, not much considering the poor or striving for much more than upward mobility.
I find the simplicity of this Bible verse pretty inspirational. There’s so many things I don’t do well. I’m not very bold, I lack peace and humility, and I don’t do a very good job of standing up for the right thing. When I think about all of the things I lack, it discourages me and I know that I’m still a long way away from being the man I ought to be. But that’s why I love this verse in James. I think I could do a better job helping the poor, and I think I could do a better job keeping myself from being polluted by the world. If that’s all I do, I’m well on my way.