lyef & thymes

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Help the poor, even those who are unworthy...

“He who has God and everything else, has no more than he who has God alone.”

I was reading a letter from Martin Luther to John of Saxony (I always feel a little bit guilty reading other people's mail). What I found was very interesting. Luther said that John should help the poor, even those who are unworthy. I don't know what point John had raised, that this is seemingly written to answer, but the response is interesting.

Perhaps it is only interesting because this same point has been raised recently in discussions with my friends Linda and Bethany. They both love the poor people in Toronto, and in conversation we discussed the issue of giving money directly to the poor people that we meet. One person mentioned that some of the time they seek the immediate comfort of drugs or alcohol, and to give them money could mean that you are just giving them the means to buy some dope.

I am alright with this. Kindness does not go unrewarded, advocating for the poor is always a good investment, and in my opinion, giving a bottle of booze to a homeless person is a mode of kindness. Proverbs 31:6-9 seems to agree with this, saying:

Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish; let them drink and forget their poverty, and remember their misery no more. Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute, speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.

My friend Dan puts it this way(ish) saying that our first responsibility as followers of Christ is to give a man a fish. Next we must teach him how to fish, and finally, we must defend his right to fish.

I'm not sure what type of action this will mean for me, but I am glad that these thoughts keep returning to me. It would be antithetical to my faith to forget the needy, so I thank you God for your reminders.


At 3:41 p.m., Anonymous Michael said...

Good verse - so next time the beer's on you eh?

At 9:12 p.m., Blogger wilsonian said...

Really interesting thoughts here. It is so good to have a respite from hearing Christians say they'll help people who "deserve it".

Glad Jesus didn't think that way.

At 10:57 a.m., Blogger Andrew G said...


At 2:14 a.m., Blogger Linda Hope said...

WOW...i LOVE IT...your title immediately resonated in me...i am unworthy...i am poor...yet Jesus found me, and found me worthy enough of his i am worty...because of his love.

Thanks. I am not just agreeing with you cuz of our conversations (thanks for the mention btw) but because it still challenges me.

So glad i remembered to drop by today!


At 3:23 p.m., Blogger Sgt Steve said...

hey, well put Jake. Imagine if everyone would actually do that on a day to day basis...or even just half of everyone...what a difference it would make!!

At 6:22 p.m., Blogger R.O. Flyer said...

Jake, cool post. Every single day I see homeless people begging for money at stoplights. My attitude on this issue has changed many times over the years. I used to think that "those homeless dudes just use the money for drugs and booze." Then, I thought why does that matter? Is that just an excuse to be selfish? I realized it was, so I started giving money away. Then I realized I didn't really have money to be giving away, and realized that this is a much bigger systemic problem that is the result of human greed epitomized in global capitalism. So, I stopped giving money away. Every time I saw a homeless man or woman on the street, or talked with them, I would say...Sorry, I know...I don't have money either. Then, I started feeling like this was not the right response. So, now I try to give money to those who ask, and also seeing it as a systemic problem, I try to work for social and economic justice.

Anyway, just some thoughts.

I'll leave you with this:

Brazilian Archbishop and liberation theologian Helder Camara said, "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist."

At 7:57 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

heh-great comment. Liberation theology has more to offer than we give it credit. It's not like I'm trying to pass the buck here, but wouldn't it be great if the government followed *all* of the bible and not just a few select verses here and there?

I'm (partially) sorry to bring this in, but I think it's slightly strange that we do all this charity work for the poor and then vote in governments that will increase poverty. Now I know why this is-the value on social conservatism is definitely scripturally merited. I'd just like to see a separation between fiscal conservatism and social conservatism-their hearts, their roots are opposite, and I'd like to see their fruits be opposite too.

sorry again for ranting...


At 7:19 p.m., Blogger mark said...

Good. Freaking EXCELLENT.

At 12:49 a.m., Blogger Brendan Daniel Serez said...

Lowering ourselves to raise the lowest. i like it.


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