Poor and Needy

As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God.
—Psalm 40:17

Verses such as this one are so common in the Bible—especially the Psalms—that I fear traditional Christianity has grown so weary of them that they're simply ignored. Instead of having a Christian ethic guided by these frequent calls to economic justice, conservative Christians appear to be fascinated by the rare verse that condemns certain behaviors, regardless of whether or not their understanding of those behaviors is the correct one or their translation an accurate one. As a being created in God's image, however, I need to hold myself accountable when I read of God's priorities and who it is that God takes notice of.

And this is important when I think about how different our society—indeed our world—would be if I paused to ask myself, "Does God spare a thought for him or her?" with each person I encounter. If the faithful truly did this, would the poor go hungry? would healthcare continue to be denied the poor? would those struggling with addiction experience condemnation rather than treatment? would refugee families be separated and children interned at the border?

I can criticize my government for its policies—and perhaps I should—but my protests will continue to ring hollow if my own attitudes don't change.

Whether I feel myself in need or encounter the poor, O God, help me, like you, to take notice of injustice. Grant me compassion for others just as I would have it for myself, for this is what you teach me in the Hebrew Bible and what Jesus taught me in the New Testament. It's in his Name, after all, that I pray. Amen.