Today: [Proverbs 22] What are You Doing for the Poor? In chapter 22 of Proverbs Solomon instructs that we should not be high minded toward the poor. Those who have wealth and resources according to Solomon are not as different from the poor as they might think. Solomon goes on to insist that God takes up the cause of the poor and when we scorn the poor we are despising God Himself. At the same time Jesus taught that the poor are always with us and we must realize that the highest value of the kingdom is not solely or exclusively focused upon meeting the needs of the poor. Therefore we must use discernment and exercise obedience in these matters in order to find the kingdom perspective regarding distribution, giving and responsibility toward others.
[Pro 22:1-29 KJV] 1 A [good] name [is] rather to be chosen than great riches, [and] loving favour rather than silver and gold. 2 The rich and poor meet together: the LORD [is] the maker of them all. 3 A prudent [man] foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished. 4 By humility [and] the fear of the LORD [are] riches, and honour, and life. 5 Thorns [and] snares [are] in the way of the froward: he that doth keep his soul shall be far from them. 6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. 7 The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower [is] servant to the lender. 8 He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity: and the rod of his anger shall fail. 9 He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.
Proverbs 22 begins with the assertion that a good name and integrity are of greater value than material goods. Verse 2 tells us that rich and poor meet together and have in common that God is the maker of them both. This brings of the question of God’s attitude toward poverty and the impoverished. In Matthew 26 we find an interesting anecdote from the life of Jesus:
[Mat 26:6-11 KJV] 6 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, 7 There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat [at meat]. 8 But when his disciples saw [it], they had indignation, saying, To what purpose [is] this waste? 9 For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. 10 When Jesus understood [it], he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. 11 For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.
In this passage we see Jesus’ disciples angered because they feel an expensive resource has been wasted on Jesus. A woman pours a very valuable quantity of oil over Jesus’ head and the disciples, (not just Judas) complain that it should have been given to the poor. Now, are they thinking of the poor or are they thinking of themselves? There are many who complain about how ministries and churches handle money but what is their true motive. For myself when I was a young man I used to complain the way a particular ministry handled the money given to them. The Lord asked me one day “how much money have you donated to this ministry?” I proudly answered “not one dime!” To which the Lord replied “then keep your mouth shut!”.
From Matthew 26 we can conclude several things. Taking care of the poor is not the only use of kingdom resources. It is true that the oil the woman poured on Jesus’ head could have fed many poor people but there was something else going on of greater importance. We can also deduce that the poor as Jesus says are always with us. We always have opportunity to help the poor – but giving toward ministry purpose is often an opportunity with a very brief shelf life. Learn to give in the anointing. Learn to give not just to a need. There is something more important than giving to a need – but giving into an anointing.
10 Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease. 11 He that loveth pureness of heart, [for] the grace of his lips the king [shall be] his friend. 12 The eyes of the LORD preserve knowledge, and he overthroweth the words of the transgressor. 13 The slothful [man] saith, [There is] a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets. 14 The mouth of strange women [is] a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the LORD shall fall therein. 15 Foolishness [is] bound in the heart of a child; [but] the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. 16 He that oppresseth the poor to increase his [riches, and] he that giveth to the rich, [shall] surely [come] to want. 17 Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge. 18 For [it is] a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips. 19 That thy trust may be in the LORD, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee.
Verse 10 tells us that the root of contention is scorn. In ministry we seldom if ever address those who scorn us. As a result, they don’t hang around long. Scornful people have high opinions of themselves and they don’t like being ignored. When you ignore a scorner it offends their pride and they will soon wander off looking for someone who loves the sound of their voice as much as they do. Learn to put your attention on people with good hearts and willing minds that are open to the kingdom. Refuse to reward bad behavior by engaging with those that are acting out in your life. If you are dealing with contentious situations look for the scorner. If it is you – then repent. If it is someone else, then separate yourself from that person and strife will cease.
Verse 15 tells us that foolishness is bound in the heart of a child but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. Some of the most demonized children I have seen are those whose parents boast that they have never chastised their children. When is corporal punishment called for and when should it stop, at what age? It is a fact that children are born in a fallen condition. It is their nature to need chastisement. To refuse to discipline your children is a form of child abuse. You are condemning that child to a life of struggle because you have not taught them the limits that must be observed in their own behavior. At the same time, you don’t beat a child senseless because they have disobeyed. Corporal punishment must be used judiciously in concert with clear understanding to the child of why they are being disciplined and what is expected of them. After some years, physical punishment will no longer be effective. After the age of 11 or 12 there is little use to physically punish a child. Their personality is set in whatever mold has been cast in earlier years. They still need guidance, and limits but the time for physical punishment ends about this time.
20 Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge, 21 That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee? 22 Rob not the poor, because he [is] poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate: 23 For the LORD will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them. 24 Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: 25 Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul. 26 Be not thou [one] of them that strike hands, [or] of them that are sureties for debts. 27 If thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away thy bed from under thee? 28 Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set. 29 Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean [men].
Verse 22 warns a city not to rob the poor nor to oppress the afflicted in their gates. It is not government’s primary job to care for the poor but neither is it acceptable for a nation to neglect the impoverished and just expect them to pull themselves up by their own means out of the difficulty that typifies their lives. Verse 23 tells us that the Lord will plead the cause of the poor. To scorn the poor and ignore them is to despise the God that defends them, and there will be consequences. We should each of us in very personal ways take responsibility for the impoverished around us. It may be true that they got themselves into their circumstances, due to lack of wisdom, bad choices, etc., but that does not excuse us from following the leadership of the Holy Spirit in caring for those less fortunate than ourselves.
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