For the plane ride to and from Washington this weekend, I brought along a book I picked up at the Christian Legal Society annual meeting this past October, a book that was being distributed for free by the Center for Public Justice. The book is titled A Covenant to Keep: Meditations on the Biblical Theme of Justice. The book consists of five essays about different aspect of justice as taught in Scripture, the themes of which are further developed in a set of meditations.
One of the chapters addresses three Proverbs. It opens with “Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth,” a proverb that, standing alone, can be easily misunderstood. It tempts one to assume those who lack are lazy and if they just worked harder all their problems would go away.
The author suggests it is dangerous to think a single proverb reveals God’s message in full and reminds us of two other proverbs as a way of gaining a fuller understanding God’s message. They are: “A poor man’s field may produce abundant food, but injustice sweeps it away,” and “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.”
Reflecting on these proverbs, the author writes
If we put these three proverbs together, we come up with a remarkable storehouse of wisdom. That wisdom begins with honoring God in true humility; those who live with abundant wealth should not revel in their own achievements. They should give and receive with hearts of thankfulness. That, in turn, will lead them to see others, including the poor, in the same light – as people called to be thankful stewards of God, their maker. Proper acts of kindness will then follow.
A simple, yet profound wisdom. Humility. Gratitude. Kindness. If we can remember our dependence on God, remembering that all we have is gift, we will have hearts filled with gratitude. And gratitude leads us naturally to sharing the gifts we have received with others.