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In the Gates

Caring for the Poor

Caring for the Poor--Jesus reminded us that we would always have opportunities to care for the poor, and that we should be faithful in doing so (Mk. 14.7).

The eighth commandment

Deuteronomy 15.11

“‘For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, “You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.”’”

Psalm 41.1; Galatians 2.10

Jesus reminded us that we would always have opportunities to care for the poor, and that we should be faithful in doing so (Mk. 14.7). The Law of God provides guidance in the exercise of mercy and grace. As God, Who is wholly good and just, reaches to us in mercy and grace, so His Law enables us to reflect His character in our relationships with our neighbors. Not to care for the poor, and even to be indifferent to their needs, is a form of stealing from them what God intends them to have.

Note also the exhortation to generosity in dealing with the poor: “open wide your hand.” We are hereby reminded, as in all the statutes for this commandment, that the earth is the Lord’s and we are but stewards of whatever He determines to entrust to us. As He is lavish in giving to us, so we must be lavish toward those who, for a variety of reasons, may have fallen on hard times.

Moreover, these acts of lavish mercy and grace are to be voluntary, not compelled by government. When governments try to become the conscience of their people by requiring what God commands should come from the heart, they create resentment, division, and waste in the use of God’s resources. Whatever does not flow from love for neighbor can only increase the distance between us and them, not bring us closer to one another.

This series of In the Gates we present a detailed explanation of the Law of God, beginning with the Ten Commandments, and working through the statutes and rules that accompany each commandment. For a practical guide to the role of God’s Law in the practice of ethics, get The Ground for Christian Ethics by going to and click on our Book Store.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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