24 September 2007Proverbs 14:12-31
"Those who despise their neighbours are sinners, but happy are those who are kind to the poor." (v.21)
Despise = To regard as unworthy of one's interest or
If we are not interested in people, or feel their needs are not our concern, then we are, according to this Bible verse, committing a sin.
It can be dangerous to take one Bible verse out of context, however, injustice and mistreatment of others being a sin, is a theme running throughout.
This passage seems to assume that the neighbour, who we are not to despise, is also needy. Sometimes we are all inclined to see people who are not 'like us', who are 'needy', as unworthy of our interest or concern.
There have been a series of story-sharing events in North Lancashire this last year, and people have spoken about times when they have felt excluded by the attitude of others in the Church, and by the Church systems. They have felt that other people have treated them as if they are 'not worthy'. If those who were doing the excluding were to hear these stories they would be surprised at the impact their behaviour is having on others.
When Methodist Ministers are ordained in to their Ministry, there is a point in the worship where the whole congregation call out "you are worthy"; are we 'calling this out' to the needy?
Who are the needy in British society and the world?
The Methodist Church has a policy statement that racism is a sin. Where does this link in today's reading?
Can you be sure that you can say with a clear conscience that you don't despise any of your neighbours? Which of your actions show that you treat the needy as 'worthy of your interest'?