Abundant food is in the fallow ground of the poor, But it is swept away by injustice. Proverbs 13:23
God is concerned about the poor - and about justice concerning them. What is interesting about this passage is that the major concern that God has is about freeing the poor to make the most of their lives by hard work. Unfortunately in our day too many think that the best way to care for the poor is for the government to take care of them by instituting programs that foster what is called social justice. This kind of justice involves the government using a taxing power to redistribute wealth so that fairness is reached as far as "outcomes" are concerned. What we see here is that God is more interested in the poor having fairness in regard to opportunity rather than outcomes.
God is the God of justice and He is very concerned about the injustices that are perpetrated against the poor. In the Old Testament He makes it very clear through the prophets that one of the reason judgment falls on societies is because they no longer have compassion for the poor. But, social justice is NOT a compassionate response toward the poor. It is rather an example of government trying to bring about justice by promising equal outcomes for all. This is done whether or not the person receiving the promised outcome is deserving of it or not. Whether we like it or not there is some poverty that is the direct result of choices made by the one who is in poverty. There is also poverty that is the result of people not being willing to work. The Bible is clear that if a man is not willing to work, he is not to eat. Then Proverbs tells us that when he is hungry enough - that will motivate him to work. The poverty of the prodigal son was due to his own ungodly living and ungodly choices. When a man wastes his money on drunkenness and riotous living, he should not prosper in life. To promise him the same outcome as the hard working man is not social justice. It is social injustice!
God makes promises to those who work hard and who live wisely. He also makes promises to those who choose ungodly paths - speaking of poverty and want that will come to them. We cannot try to stay His hand in these matters without eventually bringing the entire government under His discipline. That is what we are experiencing today. The government has decided to work for common outcomes for all in a perverted sense of what is just. But this is unjust - to confiscate the wealth of those who have worked hard for what they have - and to redistribute it to those who in many cases have not worked hard for it. When someone gives to the poor freely it is a gift. But when a government gives to the poor by confiscating the wealth and gain of the productive - it is thievery by taxation.
God says here that abundant food is in the fallow ground of the poor. That means that the poor could till the ground and make a crop that would lift them out of their poverty. The abundant food does not produce itself - it is given when the poor have the freedom to till their ground and bring it forth. What is being restricted here is the freedom of these who have been reduced to poverty. When this happens, there is poverty abounding. But where there is freedom instead of injustice, the poor man is able to work hard and over time lift himself out of poverty. Where the government works to provide a level playing field for all to prosper equally from hard work - there will be a blessing on that society. The government also has a responsibility to make sure that in doing this the rich do not use their money to keep the poor from succeeding. This happens as well in the world - and it is the responsiblity of the rulers of a nation to make sure that they are not unduly influenced by money to decide for the rich in disputes. They are to make just decisions and not allow the rich to abuse the law to keep the poor in their poverty.
God desires justice and freedom to prevail in the affairs of men. He desires for these things to free men to be able to work hard and prosper from their labors. These things can be infringed upon in life, but not without cost. The cost is that the poor cannot achieve better things through hard work, saving, and investing in something that can give them more in their future. Whether this is done by the rich oppressing the poor - or a government oppressing all by taking from one class to give to another - God is not pleased. All men - and all governments will stand before God to give an account of their stewardship of the poor. May we be wise to free the poor to till the fallow ground of their farms and lives so that they may be lifted out of poverty, not by a government program, but by a work-ethic that encourages them to work hard, save, and build for a better future.
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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