One of the primary failures of youth ministry is that the gospel is reduced to justification. —Cameron Cole [audio mp3="https://s3.amazonaws.com/readersandwriterspodcast/CameronColeMixed.mp3"][/audio] Unlocking the Bible continues to release weekly episodes of Readers and Writers with Colin Smith, a podcast recorded live at The Gospel Coalition's 2017 National Conference. Our third guest is...
From time to time, we open our corporate prayer meetings by asking people to praise God for a specific attribute. There are some regulars: God’s power, love, kindness, help, strength, and grace regularly make the list. But as far as I can remember, there’s one attribute that has never come up: God’s mercy and concern for the poor. Yet, God is praised precisely for this in the Psalms:
I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor
and upholds the cause of the needy.
Surely the righteous will praise your name,
and the upright will live in your presence. (Psalm 140:12-13)
There it is. King David sees God’s loving concern for the poor as a reason to praise him. Doesn’t that move you to praise God too? Imagine if we had a God who didn’t care about the poor and afflicted. Wouldn’t it diminish his glory if he didn’t give a rip about those languishing in poverty?
Four Truths About God’s Love for the Poor
God’s concern for the poor is indeed something to praise him for. It teaches us more about his amazing and unparalleled character. Here are four insights we gain into the character and heart of God through the lens of his love for the poor:
1. God values everyone.
Society values those who contribute, those who excel, those who achieve. But God values all people equally. He isn’t more impressed with a successful entrepreneur than a penniless beggar. They are both precious in his sight. No matter where you are on the pecking order, God values you. That is a reason to praise him.
2. God never forgets any of us.
But God will never forget the needy;
the hope of the afflicted will never perish. (Psalm 9:18)
We can all list the names of A-list stars. They’re unforgettable. The poor around us, however, are invisible and forgotten. But not by God. He remembers every one of us. Not one of us wastes away in anonymity. God sees all of us and is watching over us. That is a reason to praise him.
3. God is moved by our suffering.
Remember the story of Jesus and the widow who lost her only son? Her funeral procession was passing by Jesus. Do you remember how he responded when he saw this devastated and vulnerable woman?
And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her… (Luke 7:13)
Jesus was moved by her pain and vulnerability—and he did something. He raised her son back to life. No suffering in this world escapes God. Your suffering does not escape God. The suffering of the poor does not escape God. That is a reason to praise him.
4. God cares about justice.
But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless. (Psalm 10:14)
Boy, that word “justice” is polarizing, isn’t it? The bottom line is that God wants people to be treated fairly. That’s why we find him coming alongside the poor. They’re vulnerable. The odds are stacked against them. It’s not that God wants to elevate the poor over others; he simply has their back so they aren’t mistreated. And he has your back too. That’s a reason to praise him.
Delighted to Care for the Poor
I, for one, am delighted God cares about the poor. And it provokes praise in my heart like it did within King David. But my hope is that understanding God’s care for the poor will cause my hands to not only lift in praise, but also to reach out in mercy.
- If God values the poor, shouldn’t I?
- If God remembers the poor, shouldn’t I?
- If God is moved by the suffering of the poor, shouldn’t I be moved too?
- If God has the poor’s back, shouldn’t I as well?
We have been recreated in Christ to reflect his image and the image of the Father in this world. May we do that with greater clarity as we reflect our merciful God’s concern for the poor.