Imagine a place where people are ignored and almost literally trampled into the ground. Or, a place where people freeze on the streets while others pass by doing nothing. Who could live with such harsh treatment and conditions? The poor who are living in poverty in America do. Every day, hundreds and possibly thousands of men and women who are unable to get a job get passed by on the street as a “creep” or a “lazy bum.” These people are not loved as neighbors and friends who are in need.
Our Sophomore English class recently read The Grapes of Wrath and in it, we saw the struggle in a man’s heart between his selfish desires and the commands of the Lord. Multiple scenes showed the juxtaposition of this struggle between the “Okies” and businessmen and landowners. What does Scripture say about how we treat the poor?
It’s not easy to be generous. As humans, our first inclination is not one of grace when we encounter others’ hardships. It says in Phillipians 2:21, “For they all seek their own interests.” Day and night, our first thoughts are always of how to better ourselves and how to make our lives easier. The businessmen/landowners in The Grapes of Wrath were exactly this way. They would only allow the migrants to remain on their land so long as they were helping the owners collect their “margin of profit.” They would rather elevate themselves and “sit in the place of honor” (Luke 14) than humble themselves to the level of the poor.
However, Jesus taught that we must give to the poor and raise them onto their feet. Jesus said we are to imitate God and mirror His character to the world around us, and the Bible says that He is “a father to the fatherless, a defender of the widows.” (Psalm 68:5) So, if God is this loving, we just also take upon ourselves this duty. We are to be kind to all those around us, but Jesus talks mostly of caring for the poor because it is easier to care for someone who can repay us at one point, rather than someone where our only reward will be to see them happy and healthy again. In this age, we might not see the benefits or rewards of caring for the fatherless and the widows, but our reward is greatly built up in Heaven.
by student Titus Ungersma
This blog entry was originally posted on our previous website, on an earlier date. (~2015-Feb 2016)