Monday, February 20, 2012

Poverty Alleviation

Devotional for 2.20.12 

Happy Monday! What a beautiful day in Jesus we’ve been gifted because “God is here. Wherever we are, God is here. There is no place, there can be no place, where He is not” (A.W. Tozer). May El Roi, “The God Who Sees Me” be your joy, peace, and provision today. Thanking God that each and every one of us is under His watchful eyes as we enter a new week. Shalom.

During the month of February we’re focusing on Wisdom about Money. Let’s turn to Proverbs to get wisdom that goes beyond the gold!

Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.
Proverbs 14:31

The book of Proverbs has much to say to the poor and about the poor. To those who choose laziness instead of labor, God warns, A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man (Proverbs 6:10-11). The Apostle Paul lived by the rule that he taught: The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

Laziness is a single facet within the multidimensional system of poverty. The book of Proverbs also acknowledges that being poor can stem from injusticeAn unplowed field produces food for the poor, but injustice sweeps it away (13:23), from oppression ­– Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God (14:31), or from exploitation Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court (22:22).

God is a Father to the fatherless, a Defender of the poor, and a Helper to the needy. Jesus’ justice mission of reconciliation included preaching good news to the poor, proclaiming freedom for the prisoners, recovering sight for the blind, releasing the oppressed, and proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favor (Luke 4:18-19). We must follow in Jesus’ steps and obey God’s command to Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy (31:8-9).

We honor God when we are kind to the needy (14:31). Mercy to the needy is a loan to GOD, and GOD pays back those loans in full (19:17, MSG). Generous people will be blessed; those who give to the poor will lack nothing (22:9, 28:27).

To shut our eyes and ears to the cries of the poor comes with severe consequences (28:27). Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker; whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished (17:5). Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor, will also cry out and not be answered (21:13).

“Poverty alleviation is the ministry of reconciliation: moving people closer to glorifying God by living in right relationship with God, with self, with others, and with the rest of creation,” writes Brian Fikkert, Steve Corbett, and John Perkins within the must read book, When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself. “Because every one of us is suffering from brokenness in our foundational relationships, all of us need ‘poverty alleviation,’ just in different ways. Our relationship to the materially poor should be one in which we recognize that both of us are broken and that both of us need the blessing of reconciliation.”

Wisdom Step: What can you do to alleviate poverty today?

Poverty is the result of relationships that do not work, that are not just, that are not for life, that are not harmonious or enjoyable. Poverty is the absence of shalom in all its meanings.
Bryant L. Myers

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