Open your mouth for the mute, For the rights of all the unfortunate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, And defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.
Today there is a form of theology that emphasizes social justice as its core value. This is somewhat confusing to those who desire to walk with God on the basis of grace because it tends to make concern for the physical poor and needy the primary cause of Christianity. As a guy who is quickly approaching the age of 50 I can tell you what the "social justice" movement is going to end up becoming. It will eventually follow in the footsteps of the social gospel of the 60's and 70's - and every other time when the emphasis of those teaching the Scriptures moved away from the gospel of Jesus Christ and the teaching that man needs salvation from his sins. I say this with a little hitch in my heart - because if we had just followed the teaching of the Word of God in the first place - we would not have needed an "emphasis" on social justice.
Solomon's mom tells us straight up that the godly king - and for that matter any other godly man regardless of authority and position - stands up for those who cannot defend themselves against the powerful. Unfortunately the church from time to time forgets that when the gospel was clarified in the book of Acts the leaders also asked that as we preach the gospel we would remember the poor. There it is - not a social justice emphasis - or a gospel of social works that needs to be taught as a substitute for the real one - but a gospel that teaches salvation by grace from our sins against God and His law. As we go about preaching that gospel - we should also remember the poor - and minister to them accordingly. But at no time do the leaders in Acts condone a gospel that replaces the true one with mere gracious acts to raise the social level of a man without dealing with his fallen spiritual condition. To lifte a man socially without dealing with his core corruption of sin is to prepare a man for hell by making him enjoy earth better before he goes there.
We are commanded to open our mouths for the mute. The word here refers to the physical condition of being unable to speak - but the idea is metaphorical. There are those who need an advocate. They are mute not because of a physical disability, but due to a social one. The unborn cannot speak for themselves - thus we must speak for them. If they could speak they would fill the world with their screams and cries of pain and anguish as they are slaughtered by the millions within their mother's womb. They cannot speak - therefore we MUST! In the 60's and 70's the plight of the black man in America was thrust before the church. Shamefully, we did not speak up for their rights - and by our silence (and too often unbiblical teaching supporting racism) we all but lost the black community to a political gospel. When we refuse to speak out for the mute and for the rights of the unfortunate - we are setting up disaster for ourselves in future generations.
As much as I love our nation - we made a tremendous mistake in our founding in not abolishing the practice of slavery. We had an opportunity but did not do the right thing. That set up the disaster of the 1860's when our nation fought a bloody war over that issue. I know as a historian that many will complain that the war was fought over states rights, and in one way I would agree with them. But anyone wanting to be historically and morally honest knows that the rights that the state wanted were the rights to continue an odious practice of slavery that had horrific effects on the black man in America.
We are to open our mouths and judge righteously. We cannot allow social mores to guide us - we must be guided by God's righteousness. That is why the plight of the homosexual is not the same as the plight of the black man and racism. Homosexuality is a choice - a moral choice. It is called sin in both the Old and New Testaments. It is not the unforgiveable sin, but it is one that Christ died to set us free from nevertheless. Therefore whereas we can speak against those who target homosexuals for violence and hatred, we cannot say that this should be accepted as a normal lifestyle and also should be taught to our children as an acceptable ssexual choice.
We are to defend the rights of those afflicted and needy. In Jewish culture of that day this meant speaking out for the poor. It meant standing up for widows and orphans who had no voice in the gate or in a judicial setting. Money was not to speak in the place of justice, righteousness was. When we allow our judicial system to fundamentally treat the rich different than the poor - we must speak out against that kind of abuse. God expects it - no - God commands it. Maybe if the church in generations past HAD spoken up for the poor, the needy, and the afflicted - we would not have to see emphases that detract from the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Although we can do little more than humbly apologize for those past oversights - we can offer hope to those who were affected by speaking out against present day abuses. When it comes to the issues of our day we need to ask the question, "Are you speaking out - or have you suddenly lost your voice?"
Proverb a Day
Each day, we'll take a look at a verse from the chapter of Proverbs for the day. Our hope is to gain wisdom each day - and from that wisdom - to have understanding to make godly decisions in the throes of everyday life.
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