The Christian mission of bringing God’s shalom justice to people in need did not originate with Jesus’ command to “Love your neighbor as yourself,” or even in Micah’s admonition from God to “Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.”
In fact, God’s law itself was very clear about his people’s responsibility to do justice on behalf of the weak and oppressed.
Jeff Palmer writes at Kingdom Communities:
In one particular passage, … God lays down His expectations for the Israelites and how they care for people in need. (Deuteronomy 24:10-22). He talks about just loans that help people and not burden them. (24:10-13) He warns against oppression of the hired hand who is due his wages each day. (24:14-15) He reminds them that each individual is responsible for his/her sin or shortcoming. (24:16-18)
Then he gives the “law” of the gleanings, whereby those who harvested their fields must leave the second harvest and the “gleanings” for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow. This is not only for those mentioned in need but it is for the benefit of the landowner himself in that He says, “…so the Lord God may bless you in all the work of your hands.”(24:19)
… The truth is that all of us – rich or poor, wise or foolish, strong or weak – owe our lives and everything we have to God. We are all slaves to sin. We are born into it. However, by the merciful grace of God, we, who have placed our trust and lives in the hands of Jesus, have been made rich in His abundance. Everything we have has been given to us by our good and loving Father and in turn, we should be open handed with what we have – little or great – because He has been open handed with us.
… Our status as “slaves” (to sin, to things, to anything that would take us away from God) should remind us that we should be totally dependent upon God. And that total dependency should create an eternal gratefulness motivating us to care for the needy.
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Jeff Palmer is executive director of Baptist Global Response, an international relief and development organization that connects people who care with people in need. Find out more about them at gobgr.org.