How are we as Christians to treat our neighbors and fellowmen and women who are in poverty? Leviticus 25 provides us some good answers. Whether our brothers or sisters are going through a temporary cash flow shortage, more severe or dire poverty, we---personally are called to do everything we can to help redeem our fellowmen and help get them back on their feet, rather than take advantage of their disadvantaged conditions.
In this week's OneYearBible blog, the Old Testament passages in Leviticus addresses others' needs and our responsibility. Bob Deffinbaugh has a wonderful commentary on this subject. Are we our brother's keeper?
Of course, the ultimate poverty is a life cut off from God, and the redeeming power of Jesus Christ, no matter what our financial conditions.
Still, we as followers of Christ are called to help our fellowman during his times of need, rather than prey or take advantage or him or her or them. This does not mean we help them in ways that permanently render them dependent, or take away all hope of their one day standing on their own two feet. Please note that this piece addresses our personal responsibilities and is not about pushing these responsibilities forward permanently to government as divine entitlement. This is also not about giving money to drug addicts to buy more drugs. It is not about being guilted into giving, giving, giving.
In helping our fellowman out of poverty, we are to seek God's guidance through prayer as to how to proceed in each case. We may be guided to help with dire and immediate needs, such as supplying clean water, food or medical care. Or it may be in giving an interest-free loan that may never be paid back. Or we may be guided to encourage and help someone go back to school so they can be retrained to get a better job. We may be guided to get them counselling in one form or other.
Our ultimate goal as Christians is to help them out of mental and physical enslavement and poverty so that they can stand on their own two feet and perhaps one day do the same for another of their brothers and sisters in poverty.