Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Proverbs 31:8
It’s interesting that in the three major monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) equality between rich and poor is a major theme. Not only are the wealthy on equal footing with the needy in God’s eyes but those who “have” are admonished to help those who “have not.” And although God doesn’t challenge believers to eliminate poverty, He does challenge us to ease the suffering of those experiencing it. Jesus, Himself, reminds us there will always be the poor. He also gives us the great command to love one another as He loves us. We are, ourselves, living in the full poverty of sin. Yet He loves us immensely.
This last proverb we are looking at in this series, 31 Days of God’s Wisdom, isn’t just about helping and loving those who are destitute. It pushes us to speak up for those who cannot. A person need not be poor in the traditional sense to require a champion. A group of people who come to mind, especially these days, are children. They own nothing. They have no power. They have no influence.
Prior to Jesus’ days many children were seen as property or even slaves. They were used as pagan sacrifices and for sexually immoral acts. They were traded and used like cattle. When Jesus came He told those who would listen to be more like children. To be innocent and curious. He allowed the children to come forward and listen to His words. He asked us to have a child-like faith. These people who had nothing to their name, He wanted us to emulate.
God’s world, if you haven’t already discovered, always seems to be an upside down version of the world of the flesh. He requires us to love the unlovable. To be humble when challenged. To speak up in the face of adversity for those who cannot. To take courage in the unseen, not the seen.
If there’s ever a time to heed God’s words it is now. When I read and write about how children were treated in years gone by, I have to ask myself, “Are we really any better now?” Are we protecting our helpless children from sexual immorality? Are we providing for all of their basic needs when so many have been abandoned? Are we protecting them from death starting even in the womb and then in the streets?
Friends, as we arrive at the end of the Book of Proverbs, we see chapter 31 in two parts. The first tells us to stand up for those who have no voice. The second, more famous part, describes the Proverbs 31 woman. But Proverbs 31:10-31 could be about a man or a woman. A person who takes the responsibilities of life laid out throughout proverbs seriously. Who places protecting family front and center. A person who works hard to keep from being on the poverty rolls. A man or woman who respects their bodies and their relationships. If we were to take on at least half the roles outlined in these last verses I’m sure we would have the beginning part covered. Let’s look in the mirror today and ask the person looking back at us if we are doing our part to be upright enough to stand for those who cannot.
Gracious Lord, you remind me over and over that I live among equals. Equally loved by you but not equally treated by this world of the flesh. Help me to stand among those today who speak up for your children and others in need. Amen