Oppressing the Poor Insults God

He who oppresses the poor taunts his Maker, But he who is gracious to the needy honors Him.

Proverbs 14:31

Oppressing the poor in any form taunts, insults, mocks, or defies God. These words are all different ways the Hebrew word חֵרֵ֣ף (ḥē·rēp̄ʹ) is translated in the Scriptures. When Goliath came out against Israel, He mocked the people. When that happened, David stood up and said, “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?”

Shouldn’t we, like David, stand up against any system, country, company, or person that dares insult God by mistreating the poor? Why don’t more Christians stand up against these evils that mock God?

When we do try and assist those that are in need, the book of Proverbs says that we are giving to God.

One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD, And He will repay him for his good deed.

Proverbs 19:17

Jesus says a similar thing in Matthew 25:31ff. This passage is about judgement and only focuses on how people treat those who are forgotten by society, but Christians tend to hyper focus on other judgement passages to the exclusion of this one except to borrow the goat/ sheep language. Any attempt to defend the name of God by standing up for the poor is written off by some so-called religious people as some derogatory term they read online so that they can absolve themselves of any real responsibility to their neighbor outside intellectual conversations about what James calls worthless religion.

The reason why I say “so-called religious people” is because James tells us what pure religion is: to care for the fatherless and the widows and the keep oneself “unstained” by the world (James 1:26-27). Any religion or “gospel” that doesn’t accomplish these goals is worthless.

Now, it is true that some focus on giving to those in need without keeping themselves unstained by the world, but it is also true that some focus so much on their own purity that they don’t care for others as they ought. We need to have a balance, but lack of attention to either one renders the other useless.

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