- "You must not exploit a widow or an orphan. If you exploit them in any way and they cry out to me, then I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will blaze against you, and I will kill you with my sword. Then your wives will be widows and your children fatherless"-Exodus 22:22-24
- "For when they die, they take nothing with them. Their wealth will not follow them into the grave." -Psalm 49:17
- "Pour out you unfailing love on those who love you; give justice to those with honest hearts." -Psalm 36:10
- "They refuse to provide justice to orphans and deny the rights of the poor." -Jeremiah 5:28b
- "Then, when you swear by my name, saying, 'As surely as the Lord lives', you could do so with truth, justice, and righteousness. Then you would be a blessing to the nations of the world, and all people would come and praise my name." -Jeremiah 4:2
- "Don't say 'I'm too young', for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don't be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!"-Jeremiah 1:7-8
- "Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon." -Isaiah 58:10
- "Our courts oppose the righteous, and justice is nowhere to be found. Truth stumbles in the streets, and honesty has been outlawed." -Isaiah 59:14
- "No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives that need your help."-Isaiah 58:6-7
And that's just the Old Testament, y'all. I didn't even get into the gospels and the words of JC. That's powerful stuff. I've just been feeling really convicted here lately. I know that I live a very blessed life. And, I want to use the blessing I've been given to bless others. I sometimes feel like I define my faith by the "good things" I do. Which...these "good things" are good. I mean, going to church, reading my Bible and all that. But, I get so caught up in the legalism sometimes. And that is so not what God wants. He wants a relationship with me. He could have created humanity and not given them to option to make choices. He could have made a bunch of super-Christians that always did all the right things and had no choice but to do right. But, that's not what he wanted. He wanted (and still wants!) a loving relationship with you and me. True love does not exist without the possibility of rejecting that true love. That's why he placed the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden. He gave humanity a chance to reject him. And since then, we have repeatedly rejected him. (If you don't believe me, read through 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings. Actually, just read through about the whole Bible and see how his Chosen People have repeatedly chosen their selfish desires over their relationship with the Creator)
So, what I'm trying to say is...it's not that these works (and helping the poor) will get us a free ticket to heaven. But, it's just the idea that maybe if we really love God, why don't we want to obey him and love his people? Why are we so comfortable in our perfect little lives that we don't want to reach out and help the dirty people? In my bible class today, we were discussing the book of Amos. Amos was a prophet from Judah that preached in Israel. At that point in history, Israel was enjoying a time of peace and prosperity. This caused rapid spiritual decline because the people felt like they didn't need God anymore. The well off ignored the less fortunate. One of the main things that Amos spoke out against was the exploitation of the needy. In Chapter 4, Amos talks to the women by saying, "Listen to me, you fat cows living in Samaria, you women who oppress the poor and crush the needy, and who are always calling to your husbands, 'Bring us another drink!'" He doesn't just attack the women though. In Chapter 3, he says, "The people of Israel have sinned again and again, and I will not let them go unpunished! They sell honorable people for silver and poor people for a pair of sandals. The trample helpless people in the dust and shove the oppressed out of the way."
How does this relate to America today? What about the world as a whole? As we were reading through, I couldn't help but think that a majority of the time, you could have substituted "America" in for "Samaria" or "Israel". You would not really notice a difference. God is calling us to help others. It's not a matter of legalism. It's a matter of relationship. It's time to DTR and figure out where this relationship train is headed. How this affects your personal life is up to you...but I know that I don't want the wrath of God against me.
And know I really don't want a prophet calling me a fat cow. Just saying. :)