Oppressing the poor in order to enrich one self, and giving to the rich, will lead only to loss.
Proverbs 22:16 (NRSV)
What does oppressing the poor in order to enrich oneself look like?
Could it look like this? Outside a store sits a dirty and disheveled man holding a sign with an empty tin cup. The man is hungry. A person passes by the man, enters the store and buys something. It is not something the buyer needs. It is something the buyer wants. This expensive item will be added to a collection. The buyer leaves with the merchandise and passes by the beggar once again.
What does giving to the rich look like?
Could it look like this? A person is invited to a party for someone who is rich. Despite the invitation which reads, “No gifts, please” the guest does not wish to go empty handed to the party. The guest purchases a gift that the honoree does not need and probably doesn’t even want. The guest at least wants to give the appearance that he or she can respond to the invitation with a measure of generosity. The honoree accepts the gift.
Both persons have acted selfishly. In the first example, the poor man’s hunger might have been satisfied by a nominal gift. In the second example, the guest could have abided by the honoree’s request. The buyer and the guest acted selfishly. The opportunities to be a better steward of one’s wealth by giving to the poor were passed by.
O Lord, remind us daily to be good stewards of our wealth. Free us from being selfish. Inspire us to make a difference in people’s lives and to be on the lookout as to how we may show the love and compassion of Christ each day. In His name, we pray. Amen.