For those of us that have been around the Christian faith for a while, we've heard the Old Testament stories of Sodom and Gomorrah...the two cities that, because of their indescribable evil were destroyed by God. Indescribable evil. And maybe a few of us quietly thank God in our heads that we don't live in a culture like that today. And we don't. Mostly. But listen to what God says about Sodom in the Old Testament book of Ezekiel, chapter 16, verse 49: "Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy." (ESV) The Message paraphrase says it this way, "She lived with her daughters in the lap of luxury - proud, gluttonous and lazy. They ignored the oppressed and the poor."
They ignored the oppressed and the poor. And the acts listed against Sodom, though there were so many more heinous and evil, were pride, excess, laziness and ignoring the need of others. Based on one commentary, we find that:
pride - was the heart, lifting itself above God and men;
excess- it wasn't that they had so much it became sin; rather it was their abuse of God's great mercy in their having plenty and not sharing;
laziness - their abundance came easily and so hard work became a foreign concept to them;
oppression - having such wealth and ease, they did nothing to strengthen those in need, and implied that, because of their sins they not only didn't help, but rather, weakened and broke the hands of the of the poor.
The commentary also suggests that it was these sins that, left unchecked, opened the door of Sodom's rebellion leading to more terrible acts.
What in the world does this have to do with us?
Clearly, we wouldn't associate ourselves with Sodom. We are good people. We are concerned for those in need. We may even sponsor a child. Most of us attend church. We believe in God.
In God's great mercy, do we have plenty? Have things come relatively easy to us? Have we been focused on ourselves more than on what God has placed as needs before us? Are we sharing what we've been given?
We would never say we've ignored the pain of the oppressed and the poor...would God agree? or would He say we weakened, rather than strengthened, those who most needed a physical touch of love.
Wealth is hard to define, as it looks so different to each individual. But it's been said, if you have the means to buy a book and the education with which to read that book, you are more wealthy than 90% of the world's population. Based on that definition, all of us reading this blog are wealthy.
What are we doing with that wealth? Is there more we could be doing? And what might that be?
It's not always a financial contribution that God requires of us. Sometimes, it's a change of mind. A decision to open our eyes to the oppressed and poor around us, and to do something about it in a timely way. Not tomorrow, not another day, but NOW. Sometimes, it's a change of heart that God is after. A desire to make your life count for more than making yourself comfortable.
Most of us are familiar with the passage of Scripture in the book of Matthew where Jesus told those good, moral, religious people, that when they cared for the least individual, they cared for Jesus. (Matthew 25:24-45)
God's Word clearly tells us that as His children, He obligates us to care. And not just to care, He obligates us to act. We have been filled to overflowing; not to become stale in the stagnant waters of gluttonous ease, but filled to overflow into those who need the filling.
What has He laid on your heart? What is He calling you to do?
Has He asked you to pray on behalf of those who don't have a voice?
Has He asked you to serve as a volunteer?
Is He telling you to start something new?
Is He asking you to go and serve on a mission trip?
He calls us all; how He calls us is different, but the purpose is the same.
To love in the name of Jesus.
To care in the name of Jesus.
To be a light in the darkness, in the name of Jesus.
If as believers, we are to pattern our lives after the One who saved us...and if, as we see in Scripture, He gave all of His earthly life to serve the spiritually poor...then shouldn't our lives reflect a lifetime of service to those in need? Not just a one-time financial gift; not just a once-a-year trip to the soup kitchen; not just one mission trip....What if we didn't stop at just one time? But a life time of loving and caring. A life time of giving hope to those with no hope left. A life that outlives its earthly span and spreads its mission through generations.
"Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.'...'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'" (Matthew 25 34-36,40)
But the guilt of Sodom is this: she lived in the lap of luxury - proud, gluttonous, lazy; ignoring the oppressed and the poor.....
Commentary used: Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition Database Copyright © 1991, 1994 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.