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The Poor

Daily Reading: Deuteronomy 14-15

Scripture Focus: For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, "You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land." (Deuteronomy 15.11)

Devotional Thought: In the Old Testament, God established ways to care for the poor. There were laws concerning levirate marriage to ensure that widows were taken care of. There were customs established to make sure that the orphans could glean. There were provisions for indentured servanthood - and its conclusion - that enabled people to work off their debt. There were laws protecting the poor in court. And finally, there was a culture of compassion fostered by the worship of God.

Why was that necessary? For two reasons...

• "There will never cease to be poor in the land." Some people are poor because life has been tough on them. Disease and death in the family, drought and famine, poor choices and addiction, debt and systemic oppression... these and many other reasons cause poverty. There is also, sadly but truthfully, a whole segment of society who have no desire to work, and we have fostered a culture of expectation that someone else will take care of me. As Jesus said, "The poor you will always have with you."

• "Therefore I command you..." People need reminded and encouraged to be compassionate. We get busy with our own lives, our own struggles, our own desires. It is so easy to walk right past a needy person and not even see them. It is also easy to look down upon and blame a poor person for their poverty. Rightly or wrongly, we assume that a poor person is somehow responsible for the mess they are in. Sometimes we need to hear the command of God in order to wake us up.

So, "Open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor." You will find Jesus there.

Prayer: Jesus, thank you that though you were rich, for my sake you became poor. Help me to respond with generosity and compassion to the needs around me, realizing that in so doing I am serving you. Amen.

Psalm of the Day: Psalm 16.7-11

7 I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. 8 I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. 10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.

11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

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