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Do Not Show Partiality to the Poor

partiality If you hang around here a lot, you’re probably familiar with verses like these:

“He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” – Proverbs 14:31 (NIV)

Or one of my personal favorites: 

“‘He defended the cause of the poor and needy… Is not that what it means to know me?’ declares the Lord.” – Jeremiah 22:16 (NIV)

There are so many verses that demand we deal kindly with those in need around us. But here’s another little nugget from the Bible: 

“Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.” – Leviticus 19:15, NIV (emphasis added)

Do not show partiality [3] to the poor? The first thing that my mind jumps to is, “God, is this really a big problem? People being too nice to the poor?” This verse is from the chapter that also instructs the people of Israel not to wear clothing woven of two kinds of materials, so is this one of those verses we kind of shrug our shoulders at and move on with our day? Well, if it’s in there, it’s in there for a reason. 

If I were to hazard a guess, I would think that showing favoritism to the great is the bigger issue in the world. But if there were people out there who leaned too far in showing partiality to the poor, who might those people be? Hmm?… Perhaps those engaged in speaking out for the poor, who read lots of blogs on helping the poor, maybe? (Said in my best Dana Carvey Church Lady impression.)

Truth is, it would probably be me … and maybe you (but I’ll let you be the judge of that). If it is true of you, in what ways do you think you might be showing partiality in your own life? For my own life, what I’m immediately convicted of is my sometimes judgment of the rich. I see a person with a big house and fancy car and think, “The nerve of some Christians!” (Without knowing their heart or their checkbook or their history of giving.) That’s yucky. 

What God wants from me (and you) isn’t to become judgmental of the rich and syrupy sappy with the poor. What he wants is JUSTICE, as this verse and so many others make clear. He doesn’t love Sally in Ecuador more than Sally in Virginia simply because of their incomes. What the Lord does love is justice. What a great God we serve. 

So, what little conviction is God worming out of your heart?