The importance of a single hair

 

Who are the Poor?

Our idea in general of poverty is, not having enough money, whatever your individual view of ‘enough’ is.  But is there more to it?  It’s important to understand the word properly in light of God’s heart for those who are poor…

There are many different words translated into the English word ‘poor’ in the Old and New Testaments.

Among them are-

Dallah (dal-law’) n-f.

1. (properly) something dangling, i.e. a loose thread or hair

2. (figuratively) indigent

lean, needy, poor (man), weaker.- lower class, those who have less materially than the upper class

Aniy (aw-nee’) adj.

1. depressed, in mind or circumstances

afflicted, humble, lowly, needy, poor.- pain of being taken advantage of because in a lower class

Ebyown (eb-yone’) adj.

1. destitute

[in the sense of want (especially in feeling)]

beggar, needy, poor (man).- dependence on someone else just to survive- used often by David to God

Ruwsh (roosh) v.

1. to be destitute

[a primitive root]

lack, needy, (make self) poor (man).- desperately poor, vulnerable to exploitation, unprotected

Ptochos (pto-khos’) adj.

1. a beggar (as cringing),  a pauper

2. (figuratively) distressed

3. (literally, as a noun) strictly denoting absolute or public dependency on charity

{also used in a qualified or relative sense; not just financial distress in private}

[from ptosso “to crouch”]

beggar(-ly), poor- dependent on others to survive- publicly poor.

Pentichros (pen-tikh-ros’) adj.

1. necessitous

KJV: poor (implying, in context, choosing to be poor in order to help or give to others)

SO, we can see that there are many different aspects to poverty in the Bible, and therefore, in God’s eyes.  Poverty isn’t just the idea of not having money, or of not having enough.  It also involves the idea of the mental weight of being unable to provide, the vulnerability and oppression suffered by the poor from those who are not, the public humiliation of it, in essence, the way it affects the relationship of the impoverished to the not-impoverished.  That horrible feeling of being just a individual hair in a huge head of thick hair- who cares if it’s gone?  God does, which is why He speaks so often about carring for the poor…(Pentichros, which is quite different from the other meanings, I believe still comes with the oppression and mindsets of the other words, but also with the grace and lightness of God.  That word is a mindset in constant tension- pulled down by the world’s heaviness, uplifted by God’s calling and lightness.)

So, God is concerned with the feelings of those who are poor, not just the monetarily standing of them.  And He says many times that He stands with them, he desires them protected, and he protects them.    He sees everything that happens to them, and they are never seen as ‘small’ or insignificant to Him.

We are called to do the same- to help all who are poor in any form.  But it is more than just money- it is mental and spiritual- multilayered.  And helping the poor must involve all those areas, otherwise it is not really helping and is merely making ourselves feel better without accomplishing anything truly meaningful to others or God, or, even, to ourselves.

I believe this justifies a welfare system, provided that the help given is multilayered- giving money, AND spiritual help (but not ‘shoving your religion on someone’), AND an emphasis and aid to get out of the current situation, AND honoring those who are served, regardless of sacrifice to your own pride.  This also justifies foreign aid, and all the other things countries and individuals do, provided that it is, again, a holistic thing.   But the real burden for this is on the church, as commanded by God to care for the poor…

What good is it to place a Band-Aid on a wound if the wound is infected and cannot heal?  Wether the Band-Aid is religion or money or friendship or whatever.  We are created by God to need many different things in our lives, and, if we are providing someone else with those, we must give all of those as God makes us able to.

 

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God and Charity

I’ve started reading through a new book that I will blog on for a while.  It is called “Sharing God’s Heart For the Poor”, by Amy L. Sherman.  It is a very small book with alot of very short chapters, so, if you are reading or have read it, I will probably not blog on every single chapter as I usually do, but only on the things that really speak to me.

The whole subject of poverty and the complex puzzle of getting out of it have been weighing on me ever since I came back from Haiti, which is why I decided to read and blog on this book (that and I got it free from a friend….)  One of the things I’ve been thinking about is God identifying with the poor- He has it ALL!!!  Sounds like a impossibility!  I know through Jesus He could, but it talks a ton in the old testament about God having a heart for the poor!  So, since that is the first chapter of the book, here’s the first summary and my additions…..

Psalm 146:7he defends the wronged, he feeds the hungry. God frees prisoners—8he gives sight to the blind, he lifts up the fallen. GOD loves good people,9protects strangers, takes the side of orphans and widows, but makes short work of the wicked.

Psalm 72:12Because he rescues the poor at the first sign of need, the destitute who have run out of luck.13He opens a place in his heart for the down-and-out, he restores the wretched of the earth.14He frees them from tyranny and torture— when they bleed, he bleeds; when they die, he dies.

God identifies with the poor, even though He has everything!!!  It’s easy to think- there’s no way God would understand- He has it all!!!  But He does understand in His miraculousness.  He created us, so He knows and understands all that we go through.  He sympathizes with us; He wants us to be cared for and provided.  So He has given each of us the duty to take care of each other- we need each other.  He is the father of all- it doesn’t matter what someone looks like, He is their Father, their advocate.  His heart is for the hurting.

Because we have a duty from God to care for those around us, when we don’t do that, we are hurting not only those around us, but God, and I would argue, our own selves.  As Christians, if we give sacrificially to those around us, we will be increasing our own trust and faith in God, which will enable us to mature just that much better.  So it is not a giving with no return, even if we don’t ever really see the return.  It is a giving that brings us closer to where God wants us to be- with Him, united with His heart.  The help to others is obvious, and also not so obvious.  There is of course the physical benefit of whatever help is given, but there is also much more.  To receive help from someone is to receive the gift of hope, of a feeling of mattering and not being lost in the anthill of life and society, of joy of knowing you are cared for by someone else and are not alone.  That is a priceless gift.

To help others also helps God.  It shows His love, His kingdom.  It shows the beauty of His virtues and heart.  It is not a natural human thing to want to help others beyond a very shallow point.  To fully invest yourself into someone else with no outright return, especially over a long time, is not easy.  It is hard.  We need motivation.  And the only way motivation lasts is through God.  Not that we do it to earn anything from God, but that we do it because God’s voice speaks in our spirit, whispering to us of His love for us and those around us.

That is why we give.

Deepness of Desire

While at a very dear friend’s wedding yesterday, I was struck by something.  I was watching his face- full of deep longing and desire for his bride.  Overflowing with love and joy, so much he looked like he would explode.  And it hit me- Jesus feels  the same way about us.  We talk so much about the church as the bride, being hungry for Jesus to return; for justice and purity and unity and all that.  To be reunited with Him, our Bridegroom, in fullness and completeness.

But, we rarely, if ever, talk about how Jesus feels that way, too.  Yes, we know He showed it by dying and resurrecting so that we could be reunited with Him, but I believe He feels that way NOW.   He wants and desires to be with us more than He is now, but He cannot because we are not ready, and because He desire more to come to Him.

But every fiber of His Being aches toward us, desiring to be united with us totally, to be with us, near to us, and holding us.  And that is a breathtaking thought to be desired by God so deeply and completely.  And the coming together is going to be explosive, unlike anything ever seen, anywhere- a complete union of God and man into a relationship of joy!

Wow.