“Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to die; save them as they stagger to their death. Don’t excuse yourself by saying, “Look, we didn’t know.” For God understands all hearts, and he sees you. He who guards your soul knows you knew. He will repay all people as their actions deserve.”  – Proverbs 24:11-12.

It is easier to close your eyes. Homeless and poor people go unseen everyday, as those more fortunate walk by, ignoring their existence on sidewalks, in parks, in subway stations. But perhaps the time we most close our eyes is when the poor ask for help. Requests like “Spare change?” “Got a dollar? and “Please help” overwhelmingly fall on deaf ears and diverted eyes.

When we look with open eyes, the world can appear an unfair and compassionless place. It is a large issue. It is difficult to get our arms and minds around this issue. What can we do in the face of so large a problem? It is easier to shut our eyes. The poor are real, but maybe they will seem a little less real if we can divorce ourselves somehow from their plight and go on with our life. But even if we close our eyes they are still there.

God does not want us to close our eyes. Throughout the Bible, it is made clear that the poor and the oppressed have a special place in the heart of God. God could have manifested himself as the supreme ruler of the world, but instead was born in a manger, lived as a humble carpenter, and acted as a servant to all He encountered. Paul reminds us of that in 2 Corinthians 8:9: “You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.” When Jesus announced his ministry, he read from Isaiah (61:1-2) that “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” (Luke 4:18-19).  Jesus also actively calls us to prioritize the poor as He did. He says, “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.” (Luke 14:12-14).

God cares whether we open or close our eyes. A preferential option for the poor is not optional. So how can we open our eyes to the poor all around us?

Note: Wednesday’s Devotional is on what we can do as individuals and as a church to help the poor in our area.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What was your big take away from this week’s message?
  2. Mayor Bob Free said, “The majority of the issues that our community is facing would be eliminated or drastically reduced if we could just figure out a way to become a community of great neighbors.” Agree or disagree? Do you think this applies to the poor?
  3. What would happen if everyone made it a point to open their eyes to what is happening in our area?