“Blessed is he who considers the poor! The LORD delivers him in the day of trouble; the LORD protects him and keeps him alive; he is called blessed in the land; thou dost not give him up to the will of his enemies. The LORD sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness thou healest all his infirmities.” (Ps 41:1-3)
When you have the opportunity to make friends, please do. It is simple strategic advice. In Holy Scripture, this is not mere strategic advice but one which bears profound spiritual implications. Throughout the Bible, God shows a special love for the poor and the needy, the underprivileged. In a sense, one can refer to the poor and the needy as the special “friends of God.” God is the provider and protector of us all. But he is particularly concerned for the poor and the helpless. He is their special advocate and protector. He takes up their cause and will ensure that they receive justice. Often in the Bible, the Lord has a strong warning for those who oppress the poor or even neglect to care for them. Whoever oppresses the poor incurs the anger of God and will not escape justice.
In his special concern for the poor and the helpless, the Lord relentlessly sends his prophets to remind Israel of the implications of oppressing or neglecting his special friends. One such prophet is Amos. After exposing the intentions of the oppressors of the poor, Amos has a strong message from the Lord: “The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob: “Surely I will never forget any of their deeds” (Amos 8:7). Surely, no one would want to run into problems with “God’s friends.”
Just as the punishment for oppressing the poor is severe, so is a great reward reserved for those who make friends with “God’s friends” and care for them. Psalm 41:1-3 mentions seven blessings reserved for those who consider the poor and the needy: a) The Lord will deliver him in the day of trouble; b) The Lord will protect him; c) The Lord will keep him alive; d) He is called blessed in the land; e) The Lord will not give him up to the will of his enemies; f) The Lord will sustain him on his sickbed; g) In his illness the Lord will heal all his infirmities. That is the Lord’s solemn promise to those who consider the poor and the needy. It is the inheritance of those who make friends with “God’s friends.”
From what we have seen so far, we can understand why Jesus made the following statement: “And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal habitations” (Luke 16:9). Prior to making this statement the Lord had told the parable of the dishonest steward. When he found out that he was going to be fired, he made friends by making a shrewd (and even dishonest) deal with his master’s debtors (Luke 16:1-7). He was commended for his shrewdness. The Lord then draws a lesson for his disciples: Make friends with the needy when you have the opportunity. The steward in the parable was dishonest. We must do better. He also made friends with the needy at the eleventh hour when he realized that he had lost his position. We are called to do better. He was lucky. We might not be.
As special friends of God, the poor and the needy count on us for a sense of care and hope. When we remember them, the Lord will remember us. When we forget them, the Lord will forget us. But let us choose to be friends with these “friends of God” so that when one day we stand before God in judgment we will receive the promises of God.
Remember what Ps 41:1 says: “Blessed is the man who considers the poor.” Are you that man?
Invitation to pray:
Dear Father in heaven, may your name be forever blessed. Renew in me the spirit of compassion and care towards the poor and the needy. Make me sensitive to their needs and be friends with them. May I receive the inheritance of those who consider the poor and the needy. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.