Public Defenders

Proverb 31: 8 – 9

Open your mouth for the people who cannot speak, for the rights of all the unfortunate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Well, this is the last of the proverbs; just enough for one every day of the month. So, this will end Proverb Monday. I have enjoyed it and hope you have too.

This proverb was written by King Lemuel and is the advice he received from his mother. Among other things, she told him that as a leader, his job was to look out for the needs and rights of the less fortunate, the poor and the needy. In other words, he, and we, are the voice of those whose voice may be hard to hear, or muted.

That is a sobering thought. I suppose most of us think the job of looking out for the needy, for speaking up for them, is really the job of the government. Those of us, though, who are in favor of small government must accept that the responsibility then falls upon us. We are obligated to make sure that everyone in our society is cared for. As countries grow and populations become more diverse, that becomes harder and harder.

The church had the responsibility for caring for the widows, orphans and aliens. Perhaps the job became too big for the church, or maybe the church became too small for the job. Only 3 – 5% of Christians tithe and the number of church goers has diminished. So, the church is not as able to meet community needs as well as it once was.

We find ourselves in a difficult situation. We have the same responsibility to speak for and defend the needy and the poor. We can do that through town and city councils and with our votes. There are no easy answers when it comes to the poor, the needy and the homeless but when we sensitize ourselves to the need, perhaps it helps us perceive opportunities and maybe even some solutions.


Ezekiel 16: 49             CEB

This is the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were proud, had plenty to eat, and enjoyed peace and prosperity; but she didn’t help the poor and the needy.

You know what happened to Sodom, don’t you? The city was obliterated from the face of the earth. What was her crime? The Complete Jewish Bible tells us clearly, “The crimes of your sister S’dom were pride and gluttony; she and her daughters were careless and complacent, so that they did nothing to help the poor and needy.”

Did you know that pride was a sin? What about gluttony? Now that definitely hits below the belt. Sodom was prosperous. Her people had plenty and although they lacked for nothing, their hearts were hard, so that they did nothing to help the poor or the needy.

Does that really sound so different from our towns and cities today? How about the church? Are we, as the church, doing much to help the poor and needy? We can even reduce this analysis to the individual level and ask ourselves how well we are doing at helping others. The New American Standard Bible says that the people of Sodom were arrogant. They were so blessed in their prosperity and peace that they became arrogant. They began to think they were responsible for their wealth and expected other people to make their own way too.

It’s a funny thing. Sometimes when we have much, we become more greedy than those who have less. That is what happened to Sodom. They horded their wealth rather than helping to meet the needs of others.

It’s too late for Sodom but not for us. We have a chance to do something about our fate and that of those less fortunate than ourselves. At every level we can change our perspective and begin to give to others. Our churches can greatly impact their communities. We must change our consumer culture and become one of charity. With our tithes and offerings, even our local churches can have a great impact. Ask yourself, what you can do to effect change. We should all begin with prayer and with seeking God. We should trust Him to show us new paths and we can follow those paths to an entirely different way of living, one which does not only consume the blessing but instead spreads the blessing to those less fortunate. Let’s allow this to sink in and then let’s all find ways to initiate change.