In Gustavo Gutierrez’s book, On Job, he addresses the problem of the wealthy not caring for those who are poor. It is too often that those who are misfortunate are overlooked by those who have the wealth and capabilities to aid them. It is the moral obligation of people fortunate enough to live in comfortable situations, especially Christians, the religious in general, and those searching for higher meanings in life, to aid those who truly need it on a local as well as a global scale.
Personally speaking, I am a person who was fortunate enough to grow up in a loving family that took care of me, and I was never too concerned about my family’s financial situation. If I wanted to I could easily go on with my life pursuing my personal interests which would work to better myself and my family. Many Americans can say the same. But is this enough? Is this the life intended for us?
Gutierrez writes, “God takes up the cause of the poor.”
In other words, if we are to follow the ways of the Lord as an example of social action regardless of how one views Christ theologically, then we are to also take up the cause of the poor. These people are exactly like us except we were fortunate enough to be born in different places to different families. It would be extremely easy for those of us who grew up in middle class families to ignore the needs of the world and pursue only that which interests us, but God calls for more than that from us. Christ himself told the inquisitive wealthy man to sell all of his possessions and to give it all to the poor (Matt. 19: 16-22).
Although I am not urging everyone to sell all of their stuff and go join a monastery, but we can still start by helping those close to us. If a man comes up to you and asks you for a dollar, will you deny him? Is it because you think that he will probably buy alcohol or drugs with it to feed his addiction? Although this situation does occur often, let us, instead of not helping because we do not want our money going towards feeding addictions, give them the money anyways. How do we know for sure that he is going to buy drugs or alcohol? Let us do our part in giving him the money from our own pockets. Even better, if the opportunity is present to actually buy this man a sandwich instead of actually giving his cash, let us do that as well. We must treat all those who are needy that come into our lives with love, kindness, and respect. Of course, caution should always be used in certain situations because there are many violent people on the streets. But, as Gutierrez writes, “Mistreatment of the helpless is an offense against God.”
Many Americans make their wealth from the mistreatment of the helpless. This is a sad, truthful, and disturbing fact. Gutierrez touches on this by stating, “The injustice is even more scandalous because the poor who lack everything and suffer hunger and thirst are the very ones who work to produce for others the food they cannot have for themselves.”
It is simply not fair that they work themselves to death (often literally) and all we do is sit back and reap the profits. The ones who exploit the poor will reap what they sow, however.
Instead of making the ill, impoverished, and downtrodden toil so we can live more comfortably, we must attempt to aid their situations. Let us give back to our brothers and sisters overseas who need it much more than we do. And not just those in different countries, but we must help those in our own communities as well. Let us create more organizations to help these people. The people who need our help are the people of God. To express our love for God, we must express our love for the poor by doing whatever we can to help them. It is up to us, we who have the means, to make a difference in this world and to follow God by loving all of his children.
Gustavo Gutierrez, On Job, (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1987), 34.
Gutierrez, Job, 35.
Gutierrez, Job, 34.
Gutierrez, Job, 33.
Excellent article and I agree with the author. “Love one another” is not something we say – it’s something we do. Let our actions be our witness.
Scott, keep up the good work. I’m impressed with your site. Bill
Scott: Your article is good but it avoids two topics that are important. First when someone says “we should”, they mean me and they want another government program. The problem with government is that there is no “God” in the program – by law. This shows up by the fact that much of what we send to government to do good, goes to salaries and overhead instead of helping. God uses volunteers best, not civil servants. Second and worse is that so many are willing to pass off to government THEIR RESPONSIBILITY. I know because even though I didn’t start it, for a long time I reasoned that I “gave at the office” in payroll deductions. So I didnt’ have to take a personal approach. But IT’S ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS. Your point about buying a sandwich is a start of a RELATIONSHIP that will do much more good than a handout. Blessings to you.