Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27 NIV
Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. Isaiah 1:17 NIV
The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern. Prov. 29:7 NIV
This is what the LORD Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’ Zechariah 7:9-10 NIV
In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” Acts 6:1-4 NIV
Kings and judges of Israel in the Old Testament were leaders given many tasks, including military and economic and judging between disputes. But Proverbs 31 gives kings a charge, “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,” Proverbs 31:8-9. This was the first order of a righteous king, judge or leader in Israel. God desired his people to treat others as He did himself. The Psalmist tells us that God, “…upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous. The LORD watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked,” Psalm 146:7-9.
Many people were drawn to the early church because of how the community of believers were loving each other, caring for each other and meeting the needs of the poor, the widows, and the disadvantaged among them. This community was living out the type of community God had always desired for his people. It is not surprising that people were drawn to this community, and the church continued to grow.
So how do we take this passage and apply it to ourselves, to our church, to our circumstances? Deuteronomy 10:16-21 says, “Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. Fear the LORD your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.” First, give your heart, mind, soul and strength to God. Second, strive to see other people as God does – all are valuable. Third, engage in caring for others. Some ideas are – helping with the Food Bank, becoming a part of an Afghan refugee team, offering to help a widow or single mother in our congregation with childcare, car maintenance, or another need.
By Grace Hunter