Helping Vs. Oppressing

Tim Richards   -  

Helping Vs. Oppressing

As I walked to my car following a very busy Sunday, a man called across our parking lot, “Are you the pastor?” I answered I was one of the church’s pastors and asked what he needed. He began crying as he told me this sad story. He had been hired by a lady in a subdivision near our building to cut down a tree in her front yard. They agreed on a price, but no formal contract was drawn up. However, as he completed the job, she called the police, claiming he had cut down her tree, and she did not know why. According to him, the police refused to get involved, explaining it was a dispute over a relatively small sum of money and there was no contract. The gentleman said the police officers were very kind to him, but he was not paid and was relying on the money from the job for his rent. I bought him something to eat and drove him home.

While I am not certain the poor man was telling me the truth, his emotion appeared genuine, and his sad story believable. No one wants to work and not be paid, but unfortunately, many treat others far differently than they want to be treated. That is especially true for those who can be easily taken advantage of with little chance of serious consequences.

This is not the way any of us should live. God challenges each of us to conform to a higher standard. Jesus summed up how he wants us to treat others with the golden rule, “Do to others what you would want them do to you.” His command is so clear anyone can understand it.

Psalm 82:3-4 is even more explicit. “Give justice to the poor and the orphan; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute. Rescue the poor and helpless; deliver them from the grasp of evil people.” (NLT, my emphasis)  We are to help those struggling to get by and do our best to help out when others try to take advantage of them. Another passage speaks even more forcefully about the issue, “Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but helping the poor honors him.” (Proverbs 14:31, NLT)

Let me reiterate scripture’s point: If we have been fortunate enough to receive numerous blessings from God and others, we have a moral duty to be alert for opportunities to assist those in need. When we exploit those who are defenseless, we are not just treating them poorly; we are disrespecting God, who sees such actions as offensive. When we extend a helping hand to those in need, we bring honor to him. God challenges us to seize every opportunity to aid those who need our help.