Saturday, 31 October, 2020.
Water-Filter and Wifi?
By: Ong Hwee Soo / 翁辉赐
Psalm 82: 1 – 4. (ESV) 1. God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment: 2. “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked?” 3. Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; Maintain the right of the afflicted and destitute. 4. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
The Psalm opens with a scene of God holding court with the earthly leaders. The psalmist pictures God presiding in the assembly of world rulers and judges, who are conferred the honorific title ‘gods’ which is common in the Ancient Near East.
Here, we see the Supreme Judge giving judgment in the apex court against the corrupt judiciaries, and accuses the subordinate human judges, of the social injustices that violate the Mosaic Law (Deuteronomy 24:17-26).
In the Old Testament, a first-order task of kings and judges was to administer justice, and especially to protect the powerless.
The original word ’justice’ in Hebrew, ’misphat’, which means ’to give people their due’, has two sides to it. One is ’to arrest and punish wrongdoing’ and the other is ’to give people what they need’. This especially refers to ’the weak’, which is rendered ’the poor and needy’ ,in the KJV, NKJ and NLT versions, which is a more accurate translation here.
There are many categories of the poor in our society today: the rural poor, the urban poor, the blue-collar poor, the aged poor and so on. The prophet Zechariah echoes the concerns of the Psalmist: “Administer true justice, show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor.” (Zechariah 7:9-10. NIV)
Today, my devotional is to consider the last two categories of the ’vulnerable quartet’ in the Zechariah injunction, namely, the migrant poor.
On 26 Aug, Pastor Wallace Ong wrote his devotional on Psalm 41:1, “Blessed is the one who considers the poor…” He explained the verse pointedly, “Blessed is he who sees a need, examines the complexity of the circumstances and thinks through how he could wisely bring about a successful solution in meeting the need.”
Bible commentator, Derek Kidner expounded, “The word consider is striking, in that it usually describes the practical wisdom of the man of affairs, and so implies giving careful thought to this person’s situation rather than perfunctory help.”
My Care Group (CG) had occasion to visit a refugee school where our five ‘adopted’ kids are schooling. During the visit, the principal confided with us the needs of the school. I compiled a list of the items needed and our CG Deaconess broadcast the list to our CG Leaders WhatsApp Group, with the information for their respective members.
The ‘First Respondent’ was someone from PBC who now works and resides outstation. He drove a long distance to deliver a computer to the school. Next, two sisters supplied fifty sleeping mats for the school hostel as before the kids had been sleeping on the hard and cold concrete floor. Then a mother and her son procured two printers for the school.
Following my 26th Sept Devotional on Psalm 68:1-5, entitled “Baker or Milkman?”, more ‘bakers’ and ‘milkmen’ made contributions. A CG couple, who has already begun sponsoring the entire year’s monthly fees for 20 of the pupils since the school reopened during the RMCO, has arranged for the installation of a water filter for the school.
A lady from another CG requested to visit the school along with her friend from another church, who has been reading PBC’s Daily Devotionals since its inception. Shortly after, the lady from PBC, procured Wifi equipment and paid one-year Wifi fees in advance. As for her friend, he told the principal, “I will consider the computer needs of the school, but first let me send an electrician to evaluate the adequacy of power supply to support the additional computers.” He has subsequently planned for his wireman to rewire the whole school, which operates out of an old house, after this CMCO and thereafter to contribute four computers to the school. Here are examples par excellence of people who ’considers the poor’.
Thanks to the kind souls who have simply responded to ’felt needs’ or have ‘considered’ the needs of the impoverished immigrants. However, some quarters queried, “If not all our local government schools have water filters or Wifi does this small refugee school deserve any better?”
Tim Keller observed three objections raised by many Christians when considering the poor. First, “my money is my own”. Second, “the poor are underserving”. Third, “the poor may abuse it”. In his book, ‘Ministries of Mercy’, he writes: “Many people today are very concerned that relief only go to the ‘deserving poor’. It is true that we must be sure our aid helps a person to self-sufficiency. It is also true that we are not obligated to care for the poor to the same degree that we are bound to help our needy Christian brother. However, we must be careful about using the word ‘deserving’ when it comes to mercy. Were we ever deserving of God’s mercy? If someone is completely deserving, is our aid really mercy?”
Jesus taught in the Beatitudes, _“Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.” In His very first sermon, Jesus preached from the prophetic text in Isaiah 61. To prove He is the prophesied Messiah, Jesus begins by stating that He has come “to proclaim good news to the poor” (Luke 4:17-19). As we proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ, what good news are we bringing along to the poor?
PRAYER: Merciful Father, forgive me for the times when in considering the poor, my analysis has resulted in paralysis of action, instead of acts of kindness. Gracious Lord, help me to obey Your command, “You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor in your land.” (Deuteronomy 15:11), and not be tight-fisted towards the poor. AMEN.