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Misplaced Pity

One day last summer, as I was driving along the highway near where I live, I noticed up ahead a horrendous sight - a large, black dog rolling on its back in the middle of the road. It was "obvious" that it had been hit, and was writhing in pain - a shocking and very pitiful sight. As I got closer however and pulled off to the side, the dog suddenly got up, with no apparent injury, and trotted off to the side of the road, with freshly road-mashed skunk innards stuck to the side and back of its coat. An animal had been hit all right, a skunk, but what I thought was the "victim" turned out to be joyfully, not painfully, rolling in the smelly, splattered skunk mess in the middle of the highway. I then drove off, as did another car that also stopped, but as I did so I noticed in my rear-view mirror that, with the way clear, the dog went back to gleefully "rolling in it."

Who Does The Bible Say We Should Feel Sorry For?

Churches Concern for those in need is a very "Christian" attribute (although Christians certainly have no monopoly on it - most religions practice helping the needy). But how often are those in apparent need truly needy? Are they in need because of their inability to work or to find work, or are they in need because of their refusal to work or be responsible enough to hold a job? How many are in need through no fault of their own, and how many are in need due to every fault of their own because they refuse to repent of wrong ways? What does the Bible say about it, and what does the Bible say we should do about it?

Help the truly needy:

"If there is among you a poor man, one of your brethren, in any of your towns within your land which The Lord your God gives you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him, and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be ... For the poor will never cease out of the land; therefore I command you, You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in the land." (Deuteronomy 15:7-8,11 RSV)

"He who oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is kind to the needy honors Him." (Proverbs 14:31 RSV)

Encourage the lazy and irresponsible to do better:

"Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer or ruler, she prepares her food in summer, and gathers her sustenance in harvest. How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a vagabond, and want like an armed man" (Proverbs 6:6-11 RSV)

"Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, we did not eat any one's bread without paying, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you." (2 Thessalonians 3:6-8 RSV)

Fact Finder: What did Peter say about those who "go back and wallow in it"?
2 Peter 2:20-22


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