Helper

Be a helper to the poor – this could, so easily, be me

Advertisements

Read: Deuteronomy 24

Do not take advantage of a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether that worker is a fellow Israelite or a foreigner residing in one of your towns. Pay them their wages each day before sunset, because they are poor and are counting on it. Otherwise they may cry out to the LORD against you, and you will be guilty of sin. (Deuteronomy 24:14-15)

Reflect:

I’ve been thinking a lot today about poverty, the reasons people might be poor and the inherent disadvantages of being poor. There are many things that can happen that are outside of our control, yet which can cause a cascading slide into poverty. James described the unpredictable withering of wealth in his letter to Christians (James 1:10-11), “the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.”

Once you are poor, you are extremely vulnerable. If you can’t afford to buy a decent car, you are at the mercy of dishonest salespeople and risk buying a ‘lemon’ because that’s all you can afford; then you spend more on repairs than those who can afford a good car in the first place. If you don’t have money to fill your car’s tank, you might not be able to make it to a job interview on time, or you might have to pay extra for groceries because you can’t travel to the reasonably-priced stores. Your health will suffer because you can’t afford nutritious, fresh food; you have to work long hours in low-paying jobs so there’s no time nor energy left for exercise and fresh air. Poverty is often an intergenerational problem. It’s no baby’s choice to be born to poor parents, yet those whose parents live in poverty are, themselves, at elevated risk of living in poverty as adults.

For all these reasons, it is vital for Christians to do what they can to alleviate poverty and the potential causes of poverty. This is part of loving our neighbours. We need to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God, as Micah 6:8 says.

crux:

Be a helper to the poor – this could, so easily, be me.

Respond:

LORD God Almighty,

Thank you for the material wealth you have given to me. Please help me to never take it for granted but to be wise and generous, just, merciful and humble in its use.

Please open my eyes with compassion for the people around me who struggle with poverty and all its pitfalls today. May I be helpful to them and not a hindrance; may I act for their advantage rather than my own, and for their benefit rather than their detriment.

Amen.

Unwelcome

Those who love to be first bring harm to the church

Read: 3 John

I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church. (3 John 1:9-10)

Reflect:

As ever, I shouldn’t be surprised at the aptness of God’s word to current events, whether on the world stage or in my own life. Substitute “Diotrephes” with “Chinese President Xi Jinping” and this passage still makes sense.

Mr Xi, like all national leaders, I suspect, loves to be first. He is not welcoming to John – that is, through John’s writings in the Bible, which the President wants to re-write. The coming of John, through his gospel, epistles and Revelation, shows the Chinese government to be full of nonsense. So Mr Xi refuses to let the Bible be sold unless it (and all Christianity in China) is adapted for socialist society:

Mr Xi had said religions could operate only if they were “Chinese in orientation” and that Beijing “must provide active guidance to religions so that they can adapt themselves to socialist society” — which experts saw as an part of an ongoing crackdown by the ruling party. (abc.net.au)

The truth is, until Jesus returns there will be people in every country who reject God’s word and refuse God’s messengers.

But what if I substitute my own name in the place of Diotrephes’s name: Do I love to be first? Do I ever reject the messengers who bring God’s truth? Do I refuse to welcome believers who come as visitors to my local church? Do I discourage others to exercise hospitality to these visitors, being overly suspicious? Do I spread gossip about other believers, whether visitors or not? Is my response to my own husband’s sermons (he is my pastor after all) sometimes unwelcoming of the message God gives him for me? Do I think I am better off if I try to do Christianity on my own, apart from a local church body?

May it not be so!

Crux:

Those who love to be first bring harm to the church.

Respond:

LORD God Almighty,

Make me humble, please! Help me to think of others, to be compassionate. Make me kind-hearted, generous, hospitable, welcoming. Help me to put others before myself, to be willing to serve.

I confess I all-too-frequently love to be first. I want to be first in line, first down the highway, first to lead, first to speak, first to act. I need to slow down and let others go first; let Jesus go first. I need to be willing to come in second, last, to DNF or even DNS at some things. Please forgive me.

LORD, I need to trust you more. I need to remember that it is you who establish my steps, you who make straight my paths. LORD, I need to trust you to get me where I need to be, to place me among those you want me to be with. Help me, please.

Amen.