Two Sundays ago, I preached a sermon about how Jesus loves the poor and the weak in an altogether special way. I believe that is so. When He came here to earth He identified Himself with us all in our poverty, but He looked upon those who had great need in their lives in a very special way. Throughout His entire life, He showed that. He had pity on those who were wounded and very much the worse for wear. He was sent to the broken-hearted, to heal them and to preach the good news to the poor.
In Isaiah 58, the Lord shows us a route, which is both to a true fast that is pleasing to Him and one which is for our healing. This is what it says from verses 6-8: “
Here is a way that breaks with today’s materialism and hedonism. Of course, I believe that the Lord wants and is able to bless His people and that He can do it in abundance. There is a risk, however, and it is an incredibly big one, and there are many examples to prove it, that that way of thinking can lead to full-on selfishness if it is not balanced by what the Bible says elsewhere. There is also a difference between poverty and simplicity. Simplicity is self-imposed and a sign of abstemiousness and self-control and it often makes life easier to live because much requires more and “things take time” (as Peter Halldorf is wont to say).
Poverty is a scourge and the enemy of mankind. The statistics for how many succumb to poverty, starvation and related diseases are hair-raising. And neither can we close our eyes to the fact that there are structural reasons for poverty and that great injustice exists where the rich become richer and the poor poorer. These are truly not facts that ought to be kidnapped by the far left and made use of in their manifestos. Neither is it only the left who have the capacity for empathy or to solve the problem of poverty. But against that, there is the risk of having a totally individualistic worldview – secular or Christian – and then these problems get brushed aside.
God loves the poor and he who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker (Proverbs 14:31). He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, says Proverbs 19:17