The Blessing of Hearing
Proverbs 21:13 "Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard."
Those who ignore and refuse to help those who cry to them in their need, will become needy themselves, cry, and will be ignored. Henry A. Ironside in his commentary on this verse notes the opposite of this verse in Proverbs 19:17. In Proverbs 19:17 the Lord promises to repay those who lend to the poor because they are in effect lending to him. Therefore, to ignore the cry of the poor is to ignore the cry of God (Matthew 25:31-46). To ignore the cry of God means he will ignore your cry.
Let’s take a look at a few word meanings.
Stoppeth (H331) – close the ears, narrow, shut, stop. Plug your ears, in other words.
Cry (H2201) – shriek, outcry.
Poor (H1800) – weak, needy, lean, oppressed persons. God has a special concern for the poor, and therefore wants us as Christians to have that same concern (Psalm 82:3).
Who are the poor? From the above definition, the poor are those without the most basic necessities of life, food and clothing. Why would I say that this probably is referring to the poor’s lack of food and adequate clothing? This seems to be the Bible’s definition of poor. 1 Timothy 6:8 says, "And having food and raiment, let us therewith be content." James 2:14-17 is a New Testament parallel passage with this Old Testament Proverb.
James 2:14-17 says, "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." After reading these passages there are definitely differences between Scripture’s and society’s or government’s definition of poor.
The government seems to define "poor” as everyone not having a cell phone, a roof over their head, healthcare, food stamps for more than just basic food staples, etc. Yes, while those things are nice, the government oversteps its bounds when it tries to redistribute the wealth to meet those perceived needs. When the government tries to be God, it creates problems. Instead of the poor looking to God to help solve their problems they look to the government, a terrible substitute. Instead of people being motivated to work they become takers instead of givers. They get that welfare mentality that people owe them something. Instead of a Godly lifestyle being encouraged, a destructive immoral lifestyle is perpetuated on to the next generation.
The poor’s needs are far better met by individuals, churches and other charitable organizations. As Christians, we are responsible to remember the poor (Galatian 2:9-10). God promises blessing and happiness to those who are generous in these endeavors (Proverbs 22:9, 14:21). In fact, God says that we honor Him when we have mercy on the poor (Proverbs 14:31). Proverbs 22:9 says, "He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor." There has to be balance in giving to the poor. If someone is able to work, but are unwilling to work, they should not eat (2 Thes. 3:10). Giving them food does not help them, it promotes their laziness. If instead someone is lacking basic necessities because of unforeseen circumstances, wants to work but does not have a job, or is not physically able to work. These are people that are genuinely poor and should receive assistance. All giving ought to be guided by the Holy Spirit’s leading. Jesus said we will always have the poor with us (John 12:8). Be ready and willing to give to the poor. In fact, Jesus’ brother James said that pure religion and undefiled was to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and to keep himself unspotted from the world (James 1:27).
Do you want to dishonor God, be unhappy, and cursed? Then forget about the poor.
Do you want to honor God, be happy, and be blessed? Remember the poor. Be led by the Holy Spirit. Pray for them and give them help. In what ways can you and are you hearing and responding to the cry of the poor with Christ’s love?