Proverbs 21:13 (NLT)
Those who shut their ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in their own time of need.
The bible’s call to have a heart for the poor and marginalized is loud and clear. Based on that clear teaching of Scripture, Pastor Tim Keller went so far as to say that if you aren’t regularly doing something to help the poor…you should probably question whether you are a at Christian at all. Does that seem over-the-top to you? Maybe so, but I agree with the weight of it:
True Christ followers can never shut their ears to the cries of the poor.
For starters, I think we need to ask ourselves how much the poor are even on our personal radar screens? My radar screen is occupied predominantly with personal issues – work, ministry, family, finances, friends, health, budget, leisure. I rarely give the poor much consideration. Sure, we support some Compassion International kids…and that’s a great thing! We used to go serve fairly regularly to a local outreach to the poor, which was wonderful and meaningful…but hardly ever anymore. But are our ears regularly attuned to the cries of the poor? Are yours? Probably not.
We have a responsibility to care for our own families first, then the needy in our own church Body, followed by the needy in the broader Church body, and finally for the truly needy that God allows to cross our path…you are not responsible for all the needy people in the world, not can you be. The Catholic church calls this “moral proximity”. You are most responsible for that which is closest to you.
Writing a check to help alleviate world hunger is an awesome thing to do…but are we paying any attention to the needy in our own church? They may not be living in a mud hut, but they are struggling to survive in their own context. Maybe they just lost their job. A sudden illness. The death of the bread winner. If we open our ears and listen closely, we will certainly hear their cries. If we don’t bother to listen, we should not be surprised when everyone else’s ears are closed when our time of need arrives.