Saturday, September 17, 2011

Persecuting the Poor

Good article in Meridian by Larry Barkdull - excerpt below and full article here
     Poverty takes many forms—temporal, emotional, spiritual—but in the end, poverty always is defined by a lack. Every prophet has looked upon the condition of the poor, who are oppressed by Babylon, and grieved. In his day, Ezekiel mourned, “The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy: yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully.”[i]
     Mistreating the poor has always been indicative of the most depraved people. Sodom and Gomorrah are examples: “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.”[ii]
     The human tendency toward meanness is beyond comprehension. A disfigured child whose condition should invite pity, is often teased, taunted, and otherwise cruelly mistreated by his peers. Likewise, the Psalmist laments of the poor, “The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor.”[iii] To persecute is to “systematically subject a race or group of people to cruel or unfair treatment; to make somebody the victim of continual pestering or harassment.”[iv]
     The scriptures use extreme language when describing our turning away from impoverished souls. For instance, consider the verbs persecute, rob, hate, pollute, despise. Sadly, the poor often search in vain for mercy: “The poor is hated even of his own neighbor.”[v]
     If we turn our backs on one of God’s children, he takes it personally: “Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker.”[vi] Such a person cannot be classified as a follower of Christ: “And remember in all things the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted, for he that doeth not these things, the same is not my disciple.”[vii]
On the other hand, the Lord loves and generously recompenses those who care for his disadvantaged children: “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.”[viii]

[i]. Ezekiel 22:29
[ii]. Ezekiel 16:49; emphasis added
[iii]. Psalm 10:2
[iv]. Encarta Dictionary, s.v. “persecute”
[v]. Proverbs 14:20
[vi]. Proverbs 17:5
[vii]. D&C 52:40
[viii]. Proverbs 19:17

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