(Proverbs 29:7 KJV) The righteous considereth the cause of the poor: but the wicked regardeth not to know it.
This verse worries me. I want to be “righteous” (6662), but I don’t get “concerned” (3045) [yada] about those who claim to be poor. What does it mean to be concerned? That is not an empty question or an attempt to evade the obvious. The word means “to know.” It is translated “know” 535 times in the NASB and “concerned” only twice. You need to understand that before you get all emotionally wrapped up in showing concern.
On the other hand, this is the word for intimate knowledge. It is used of the physical relationship between man and wife. It is used of God knowing us. It means that we get involved with the people. There is a book I read a few years ago called The Tragedy of American Compassion by Mavtin Olasky. He talks about how the pendulum keeps swinging between the church and government when it comes to offering help to the poor and needy. One of the points that he makes about the church was that its involvement was personal. People did not expect professionals and organizations to do the work. They got involved themselves. Many wealthy business men would make regular trips to the tenements to get involved in the lives of the needy. That is what is being talked about here. We are not to call for the government to do it. We are to do it. It is not a matter of throwing a few dollars at someone on a street corner. It is sitting down with them and getting to know them and helping them to find solutions to the issues that put them on the street corner.
In our busy lives it is easier to pay someone else to “know” the poor. It is much harder to baby sit while they go and look for a job. It is easy to hand a dollar out the window to the man at the corner. It is much harder to sit down and talk about money management or polite social behavior. It is much easier to look down on them than to see them as creatures beaten down by sin and needed the grace of God to lift them up.
So? I don’t have any immediate answers. I can’t quit my job and go start talking to people on street corners. I can be more concerned and be open to getting to know them better. That is at least a step in the right direction. I think there will be many more.