“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
This verse in Proverbs is originally in the context of being spoken to a king, reminding him not to rule for the elite, but to have his eyes on those who really need him, those who cannot speak for themselves.
Many leaders are swayed by the influence and needs of the elite or their equals, when in reality they don’t need anyone to speak on their behalf. It is those without access to boardrooms, the halls of power, financial backing, or advocacy who need someone to defend them.
Whether a king or commoner of today, these words speak equally to each of us, no matter what position of power we find ourselves in. Each of us in our everyday lives is exposed to poor and needy people. It may be the widowed, the orphaned, the oppressed, the enslaved, the addicted, or the lonely.
It can be overwhelming to see the vast needs around us, and discouraging to feel we can’t make a dent in it. But what we can do is start by picking one issue or one person or one location, and invest ourselves in meeting those specific needs. You will be amazed at how God blesses our work of blessing others and multiplies our efforts.
We defend the defenceless not because it’s easy, fun, or popular. Instead, we do it because we have been brought from darkness into light by the lavish grace of God the Father through his Son, Jesus Christ.
SCRIPTURE TO REFLECT ON: PROVERBS 31: 8–9
1. Who are the needy around you? Take the time to look at the people you pass on the street, in your office, in your family, and in your realm of influence. Ask God to open your eyes to the needs around you.
2. To what extent are you willing to use your strengths and position to support “the poor and needy” around you? We are not talking about merely lip service, but the expenditure of effort on their behalf, for the cause of justice within a certain realm. Are you willing to put in the effort?
Chantelle McIver has been a C&MA International Worker in Niger since 2008. She is Director of the Niger Vocational Training School (NVOC) and the C&MA leader for Justice and Compassion Initiatives in Africa. You can read more about Chantelle and her work at www.nvoc.ca