Loving One Another Also Means Loving the Poor
November 6, 2015 Year B
Today, we have a wide contrast between the rich and the poor. There is a high concentration of wealth that is centered on a very few people. At the same time, there are a wide variety of people who are poor. By poor, I mean people who are eking out a living so that they can put food on the table.
In the Old Testament, God commanded two practices that helped the poor from becoming destitute for life.
The first was the idea of canceling debts (Deuteronomy 15:1-3). After seven years, a lender who has given money to a brother or someone else who is native to the Land of Israel (a Jew) was supposed to cancel the debts. This is unheard of today because people expect to be paid back what they are owed. The reason this was instituted was to prevent greed – which is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10-11). If Israel kept this command, then God would bless His people (Deuteronomy 15:4-6).
The second command was to love your neighbor by the way you lended money. God commanded His people to freely loan a brother money (Deuteronomy 15:8), and not be stingy about it (Deuteronomy 15:7). Stinginess was forbidden (Deuteronomy 15:9-10). Why was a person expected to give to the poor? God said that there would always be poor people around (Deuteronomy 15:11).
It is not our place to criticize how a person became poor. Instead, we are to be loving to the poor. Loving the poor means more than giving a hand-out or a hand-up. It means doing a spiritual check-up on my own thoughts and feelings. Helping the poor is more about a “love one another” spiritual examination of my heart.
God tests our ability to love one another by teaching us to love the poor. How I love the poor reveals much about my heart and its desire to love God.
How do you love the poor? Are you stingy or are you willing to lend a hand to someone who more down and out more than you?
Prayer: God, remind me to be loving to the poor so that I may be reminded how much you love me.