Jul 22, 2019
Join us as we explore God’s ancient wisdom and apply it to our modern lives. His word is as current and relevant today as it was when he inspired its authors more than two and a half millennia ago. The websites where you can reach us are alittlewalkwithgod.com, richardagee.com, or saf.church.
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Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
I’m amazed at how the lectionary grabs today’s news even though the scriptures were chosen years ago. The readings yesterday could come from the newscast today without a problem. Listen to these words from the prophet Amos.
“Says the Eternal Lord.
4 Listen to this, you who
trample on the needy
and bring the poor to ruin,
5 Who ask, “When will the new moon festival be done
so we can sell our grain?
And when will the Sabbath end
so we can sell our wheat?
Then we can tamper with our scales
and make the bushel measure smaller
And the counterweight heavier to cheat our customers.
6 We can buy the needy for silver
and the poor and their property for the price of a pair of sandals.
We can even sell the chaff we sweep up as grain.”
We hear every day about how the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. We hear about the middle-class disappearing and it’s becoming more difficult to make ends meet for families.
The theme hasn’t changed in centuries. Even Jesus said the poor would always be with us. But we are also admonished as Christians to care for the poor. That’s where we need to be careful as we listen the words from Amos. Yes, we will always have poor among us. Societies that tried to live with redistribution of wealth failed. Marxism, communism, socialism, and other experiments that try to take from those that have and give to those that need consistently crumble over time. Those that have just get tired of those in power taking what they have and giving it away.
Does that mean we should not take care of the poor? No. We need to help. We need to try to lift those that cannot help themselves. In Jesus’ day, it was principally orphans and widows who needed the most assistance. Orphans, no family to care for them ended up on the streets begging for anything to eat. They worked for nothing in dangerous jobs, they hired themselves out in the most despicable ways, they stole food, they did anything and everything just to survive. And the widows did the same, but often with prostitution as their only means of survival.
Still many of those orphans and widows died. They couldn’t survive the harsh conditions in Israel along with the oppressive nature of the greedy who failed to help even though commanded by the Mosaic Law. God saw what was happening. He didn’t like it. And he commissioned Amos to let the leaders know just how he felt.
It was over. Israel would no longer hear the voice of God. He would pass by without stopping. God owned the earth, but this spot would be left alone to its own devices. The honeymoon between God and the people he set apart was over.
It wasn’t long before the nation went into exile and it was another 2500 years before Israel became an independent nation again. God means what he says.
So, what does that mean for us today? Are the commands God gave 2500 years ago still applicable today? Do we need to listen to those ancient rules? Doesn’t live and let live work today? Should we let the government take care of the poor, so we don’t have to deal with the mess it creates when we try to do it ourselves?
I think in this country we managed to pass off a lot of our responsibility as Christians when we started some of the social programs like Social Security all those years ago. We let others take care of what we used to do in the church, in our families. We assume taking care of the destitute is someone else’s responsibility, not ours. But that isn’t what God says.
Can we save the world from poverty? No. There will always be poor among us as Jesus says. There will always be those among us who mismanage money, who live without thought of preparing for tomorrow, who have catastrophic events happen that destroy their fortunes, who become physically unable to care for themselves. There will always be a segment of society that prospers beyond belief, that one percent that we all look at and ask why they need that much?
The question we must ask ourselves is what do we in the middle do with our funds? How do we manage what God has given us, so that we might help care for those that need assistance? As followers of Christ, what is our responsibility for relieving the suffering of those around us?
I’m not much of a fan of giving money to the crowd that bombards the cars at stoplights, but I do think it’s okay to give them a bottle of water or a sandwich if God lays it on your heart. I’m not a fan of doling out money to the homeless to watch it go into the brown sacks that feed their addictions, but I am in favor of helping families get back on their feet when dad abandon wives and young children with no means of support.
There are things we can do to be Jesus to those around us. What can you do to the helpless, the hurting, the suffering, the poor, the widows, and orphans you pass by every day? Israel fell into exile partly because they failed to take care of those who could not take care of themselves. I hope we are not falling into that same trap individually or as a nation.
As David recalled the massacre of the 85 priests at Nob as he fled from Saul, he thought of the plight of those who stood against God. Their reward is coming. David said it this way in Psalms 52:
You won’t be smiling
when the True God brings His justice and destroys you forever.
He will come into your home, snatch you away,
and pull you from the land of the living.
6 Those who are just will
see what happens to you and be afraid.
And some of them will laugh and say,
7 “Hey, look! Over there is the one who didn’t take
shelter in the True God;
Instead, he trusted in his great wealth
and got what he wanted by destroying others!”
8 But my life
is abundant—like a lush olive tree
cared for at the house of the one True God.
I put my trust in His kind love
forever and ever; it will never fail.
9 Because of all You have done,
I will humble myself and thank You forever.
With Your faithful people at my side,
I will put my hope in Your good reputation.
I want to be part of the David crowd, not on the side of Saul and his sidekick Doeg who used their power to destroy others because of their jealous need for more power and wealth. I want to live the abundant life Jesus promised. Filled with his legacy of peace in a world blinded by chaos. But it only comes through knowing and following Jesus, the promised Messiah, the son of the living God.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible-based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.