2 October 2007Proverbs 28:3-10
"A ruler who oppresses the poor is a beating rain that leaves no food ... The evil do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand it completely". (v.3,5)
Sadly many have had first-hand experience in recent times of 'a
beating rain that leaves no food'. During the unusually wet summer,
farmers from Herefordshire to East Yorkshire saw their crops ruined
by torrential rain and floods. A ruler who oppresses the poor
inflicts the same kind of devastation.
There is a clear contrast made here between those who seek God and those who are evil; those who keep the law and those who forsake it. It is better to be poor, with integrity, than rich and crooked. Actions speak louder than words, so if the law is not being adhered to, the people's prayers will not be heard.
There is no room here for a religion that is disconnected from lifestyle and action. All is of a piece and indeed the true test of religion is how it is worked out in relation to others, especially the poor and the marginalised. Spiritual exercises are of no consequence if they are not coupled with goodness, integrity and justice.
The strategy adopted to encourage such wise living is that of both carrot and stick; those who lead upright lives will be rewarded well and those who mislead the upright will be their own undoing.
Of course, the world is not filled by 'evil' and 'blameless' people but by human beings with potential for both. What could you do today to express goodness, integrity or justice?
What do you know about the poverty in this country - in both rural and urban communities? Look out for details of the Poverty and Homelessness Action Week 2008 (www.church-poverty.org.uk/news-items/poverty-and-homelessness-action-week-2008).
Is there a particular situation of poverty that you can focus on in your prayers and with your actions?