The book of Proverbs is one piece of good advice after another. While educational and illuminating, it can become tiring. Not everyone wants to be taught and instructed every moment of the day. If the book of Proverbs can be something we “dip” into when we need to learn a “life lesson”, then it is a very good book.
The theme of the selections from the book of Proverbs for this week seems to center on those who are low or do not have resources for daily living – in other words, they are poor. Other than what is in the pocket book and bank account, there really is no difference between the poor and the rich. Possession, affluence, and position gives the false appearance that there is.
I have to wonder, beloved reader, is it implicit upon us to go out and offer our personal bread to the poor? That is, to phrase it differently, are we expected to travel the highways and byways pressing our bread onto those who look like they are in need? What if such generosity was an attitude that every person had, and when presented with a need sought to meet it? Would that fulfill the meaning of verse 9? Verse 8 it is easier to understand and fulfill; deal fairly and compassionately with all you meet, extending to them grace and mercy.
These verses from Proverbs set the tone for how we should treat others who have encountered grave misfortune. I have a feeling in the times when the book of Proverbs was being written, and no doubt when Jesus walked their earth, the poor were on every street corner. And the opportunity to share bread, or conversely to crush them where they were, was quite common. In our modern world it is not quite like that. Oh, the poor are there! Have not doubt! But we do not encounter them in the same way, and we may not have readily at hand the means to help them out of their difficulty. It seems like such a small thing to say we must have a compassionate attitude when simply having a Christian attitude may not meet their daily needs.
Beloved reader, let each of us do what we can for those we meet who need help, and perhaps working together we can ease the suffering in our world. Selah!