“He who oppresses the poor taunts his Maker, but he who is gracious to the needy honors Him.” Proverbs 14:31

In Proverbs, Solomon put together two thoughts to make a complete picture: God our Maker is honored or mocked depending on how we treat others. The proverb says we honor God when we extend grace to the needy. Jesus taught His disciples, “When you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous,” Luke 14:13-14.

When Israel was taken into captivity by the surrounding nations of Assyria and Babylon, they were the people who were considered to be poor, crippled, lame and blind in the eyes of the nations. Israel lost her independence, her economy, and her land. It was almost 400 years for the Israelites in Assyria before they would return to Israel and about 70 years for those in Babylon. How dependent they found themselves on the nations in which they dwelt. More importantly, they learned to repent and remember their dependence is on God alone. Though many had turned from the Lord, there was still a remnant of believers. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego are such examples. Ezekiel preached to the captives. Nehemiah led the first group of Israelites back to Jerusalem.

All the while, a young woman named Esther had been raised to the position of Queen in the Persian Empire. When a plot to annihilate the Jews was uncovered, Esther was initially afraid to help out; but she sought the Lord, received wise counsel (“Who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14), and ultimately delivered protection for her people throughout the empire. The celebration of Purim, which honors God’s faithfulness through the life of Esther, is still held in Israel today as a remembrance of God’s provision for His outcast people.

As Christians, we can likewise honor the Lord by celebrating His faithfulness to us as we look for ways to use the means He has given to us to help others, especially the poor, crippled, lame, and blind among us. After all, that’s what God does for us. “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” Romans 5:8.

This week as Purim is celebrated, we have the opportunity to remember the outcasts. In Syria, there are over a million displaced people trapped between warring Turkey, Russia, Iran, and Syria. One headline writer calls it “Syria’s worst humanitarian catastrophe in its 9-year civil war.” This week as we seek to honor our Maker, we will do well to remember the admonition of Solomon: He who oppresses the poor taunts his Maker,  but he who is gracious to the needy honors Him.” May we rile against the evil perpetrated by others by actively helping the needy on Earth. By this can we honor our Maker and make the great name of Jesus known throughout the world until He returns!

Our friends at Partners Relief and Development have people in Syria helping provide needed food and medical relief. To learn more about the war in Syria and how you can help by prayer and donations, visit Partners Relief and Development. You can also contribute to a special collection we are taking here for the ministry of Partners in this afflicted region of Syria. You can make a check payable to CCMV and write “Syria relief” in the memo line, or you can give through the church app by selecting “Syria relief.”