Proverbs 29:7

A righteous man knows the rights of the poor;
a wicked man does not understand such knowledge.

What are the reasons for poverty in the world? Sometimes I ask my students that question, and frequently the answer is that they are poor because they are not even seeking work. It is an easy assumption, and though this may be the case, it certainly is not in all situations. If we explore the life of the poor, we find more complex reasons for such conditions. It may be because of some medical or physical need or even a family crisis. To discover these is often a very long and tedious process.

Proverbs 29:7 reminds us that the one who sees this world the way God sees it is not quick to make judgement on those who are often the most despised in this world. The Psalmist tells us that we are blessed (“happy”) if we consider the poor. It is imperative that we all seek those real reasons for the plight of the poor rather than to make rash judgments. Those who are really to know the reasons for poverty should take extra effort to know the reasons for the poor as for the rich man’s estate. The righteous knows the “rights of the poor;” namely, that he is made in the image of God and is put in this plight for reasons having to do with his past or his present crises. The knowledge of his condition gives us a great sympathy and empathy. This is not the attitude of the wicked man as we are told in the second half of Proverbs 29:7. Failing to have God’s perspective, the wicked man ignores and disregards those who bear God’s image.

Be not quick to judge. Rather seek to understand and have sympathy for the poor.

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