19–25 July 2015.
In past centuries, people in the West had some very strange ideas about mission. Some churches thought that God lived in Europe and America, and that we Christians needed to pack God into our backpacks and carry him into the rest of the world. Today we know how silly this idea is. The whole universe belongs to God, he is the creator of all things. And he certainly doesn’t wait for us to take him into foreign lands! God is always already at work in the world long before missionaries ever arrive.
That means that in each country we need to keep our eyes open for places where God has made his wisdom known to people. The section of Proverbs we start today is a good reminder of this. That’s because it collects together the ancient wise sayings of Amenemope from Egypt, and the Assyrian teacher Ahiqar. In some places the Bible writers have adjusted the sayings a little for the Israelites, but overall they are still much the same. This is a great reminder to us that the Wisdom and Word of God is always at work trying to make itself known to all people in all countries around the world.
One of the great sayings in this collection is “Saying Number 2”, that we read in verses 22 and 23: “Do not exploit the poor because they are poor.” One of the great things we know about God is that he is a defender of the weak and poor, always caring for those in need and protecting them against oppression. Here too, the text reminds us not to abuse or exploit those who are weaker than us just because we have the power to do it. This type of behaviour may make us feel like big and powerful people, people who can push others around so we can get what we want. But this type of behaviour is not a sign of greatness at all. Not only is it evil, it is also incredibly foolish. Because God stands on the side of the weak. He will never allow such injustice to stand!
Pastor Stephen Lakkis