I subscribe to Daily Manna From The Net, and more often than not the daily Bible verse gives me pause to deliberate on some word or principle from God's word. Today, the Bible passage is from Leviticus chapter nineteen, and the verse that caught my eye is You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly. (Lev 19:15 NASB)
My usual reaction to a teaching from the Old Testament is, "Oh no, this is gonna be drier than cardboard." Most Bible-believers, whether or not they want to admit it openly, respond more-or-less with that attitude. Of course, simply because lots of folks agree with my prejudice does not mean we're right in our assessment.
Leviticus 19:15 is a case in point, with its command, "... you shall not be partial to the poor ...." With my eyebrows suitably raised with indignation, I proceeded to milk more information from the words, and those around them. Know what? This passage is right on the money.
God tells us through these words that we must disregard others' money and possessions―or lack thereof―when discerning their veracity. At first glance, this verse seems to fly in the face of Jesus' teaching, from his beatitudes to his treatment of the rich, religious establishment. But that shows what we mortals know. Jesus condemned preferential treatment based on wealth or lifestyle. He urged "sinners" to repent of their wickedness, but he also pronounced woes upon the hyper-religious who would walk a mile to avoid passing by one of the "unclean."
The Leviticus passage teaches the same balance that Jesus preached. Apparently, even in ancient Israel, do-gooders practiced their preference for the poor and downtrodden. This bias, however, is every bit as unjust as shining up to the rich and powerful. Jesus called the privileged few, "blind leaders of the blind." He pointed out that each class of people perpetuated their own specialized kind of blindness. The poor were dazzled by the lifestyles flaunted by the affluent, and unable to recognize the rich for what they were, spoiled, and spiritually destitute consumers of wealth. The rich, of course, embraced their blindness to the inate human value of each person, dismissing the poor as an inevitable annoiance, and kowtowing to other rich people hoping to curry their favor. That is not to say the poor had no purpose; God provided "those" people as vehicles for charitable giving. If there were no poor, how would one feel good about giving his or her pittance?
The lesson we must take from this passage is neither poverty nor affluence has value in God's eyes, but our righteous response to others' needs reveals God's grace within us.