April 27, 2006

Why Private Morality Matters (2)

Proverbs 31:6-7

Let them drink and forget their poverty. Proverbs 31:7


As we saw in yesterday's reading from Proverbs, when leaders get side-tracked by life-dominating sins, the poor and oppressed suffer. Today's reading talks about relief of suffering by means of alcohol. Back then, pain management was not the science it is today. Intense suffering could be relieved by a medicinal use of alcohol, especially if someone was dying.

The Bible is not recommending here that we should relieve the suffering of people in poverty by giving them alcohol to abuse. Instead, what it is saying is that if we ignore such people, we are acting as if there's no hope for them, as if they might as well be drugged and left to die.

Similarly, caring for the poor does not mean we should simply create more entitlement programs. While such programs can be helpful, they can also be a way to keep people in poverty. The government needs to work hard to ensure equal opportunities, and the church needs to be busy helping and nurturing people in faith.

For this to happen, we need leaders--indeed, all Christians--to be guarding their private lives so that people who need help can get what they need for daily living and becoming all God wants them to be. We need to stop thinking about what we want and start thinking about what others need.

Lord, forgive us for ignoring and marginalizing people so that their lives seem no longer worth living. May we lend a hand to offer them hope in you. Amen.

About the author — H. David Schuringa

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