PROVERBS 29: 6&7
“6An evil man is snared by his own sin, but a righteous one can sing and be glad. 7The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.”
The book of Proverbs is a legendary collection of advice, moral instruction, and wisdom, written as a tutorial from a wise old king to his son. Interestingly, the proverbs weren’t necessarily meant to make the son a better ruler. Instead the focus is more on the son being a better person who lived a purposeful and fulfilling life. In other words, Proverbs is actually about living a life with meaning that honors God.
Here is in this manual on moral and purposeful living, the wicked are literally described as those who deny justice to the poor. At its very core, justice is a concept that invokes the images of fairness and opportunity. Justice is alluded to in the “certain unalienable rights” phrase of the US Declaration of Independence’s preamble. Justice is explicitly written as the second reason for the formation of the United States in its Constitution.
Yet embarrassingly, we, the people, have become amazingly comfortable with denying justice to many groups in our society including the poor. Let’s be clear, this denial of justice is not simply an issue of bad politics. It is an issue of culture and cultural norms based on greed, prejudice, and poor moral character. To add insult to injury, we, Christians, are right in the middle of this continual expansion of justice being denied. Yes, some of us are advocating for justice for the poor, disadvantaged, or outcasted. However, most Christians are complacently silent or fully supportive of the abusive policies of 21st Century America. Consequently, it is not just Americans, but Christians, who do not care about justice for the poor.
Many Christians have bought into the blatant and wicked lies that the poor either deserve their misery or are the ones who are most responsible for their lack of resources or opportunities. Christians frequently look for ways to blame those who can not fully sustain themselves. Christians fully participate in our society’s renaming of critical needs to underserved wants.
This is to not say that the poor are innocent or hold no responsibility for their circumstances. However there are some things about the poor and disadvantaged that we all should be more careful to remember. The poor, be they impoverished or working, rarely have a say in the salaries they make. They rarely have a choice in where they get to live or what they get for the money they pay. The poor rarely get to choose how or where their children are educated. The poor don’t get to pick which businesses or banks are in their neighborhoods. The poor don’t often have the legal resources to stand up against corrupt entities that abuse them. The poor rarely have the ear of political or corporate leaders. Given the fact that the poor and disadvantaged rarely have the options, choices, or resources that often are ascribed to them, one should consider that the poor might be in more need of justice (a fair chance at equal opportunity) than the wealthy. Either way Proverbs 29:7 is clear: To ignore the needs of the poor or to push poverty upon anyone is wicked.