In the UK, we’ve just had a Summer Budget. There have been a few winners, and some significant losers, meaning life will get harder for some. Back in the days when there were no social pay-outs at all, often the biggest losers were those who’d lost their husband or dad. There wasn’t much of a career pathway for women, and it was hard for them to find any reasonably payed respectable employment, so they were vulnerable to exploitation.
But God promised to be listening out for the widows and orphans (Exodus 22:21-27). It was not just the legal system you had to beware of – God himself would be so angry with a man if he took advantage of such people, that he would kill him and put his family into that very position themselves. Another group of people God was attentive to, was those is debt. Charging interest was forbidden, and keeping a cloak as a pledge, something that poor person would really need, would alert God. Because of his compassion, God would hear these people when they cried out to him.
Because of his compassion. Not because they were righteous. Not because they were important in the community. Not because of any special gifting, but simply because God cared. They were individuals with needs, and that made God listen to them.
Taking advantage of other people, whoever they are, comes with dire consequences. God hates it. And if we were looking at the world from God’s eye view, we might be very surprised how many people we do take advantage of. How many cheap goods do we enjoy, because of sweat-shop wages? How often do we choose to buy from supermarkets rather than support local traders, knowing full well how they squash the farmers and producers and depress the prices? Even checking out books in the local bookshop, then buying it cheaper online…is that treating them fairly? But then doesn’t my family suffer if I spend more?
And what about pushing for an earlier appointment at the doctors, meaning someone else has to wait? Or using every ruse to get a promotion? When someone else suffers, God notices. He cares very much, too, when you are on the losing end.
Life is very complex, and often there are no clear rights and wrongs. But what is certain, is that we should treat other with respect, the way we would like to be treated ourselves. God is watching and he does care.