The righteous considereth the cause of the poor: but the wicked regardeth not to know it.
Ignorance is not bliss, nor an excuse, when it comes to the poor. Wicked men do not think about them or make any effort to know their situations or troubles. But a righteous man considers the poor and explores their circumstances to learn what they need and how he can help. Ignorance is not bliss, nor an excuse, in this matter, for God will punish the selfish man that neglects to think about the poor and take care of them (Pr 21:13; 28:27).
Selfish and stingy persons, who are the wicked of this proverb, do not think or care about the poor. They are so obsessed with their own worthless lives that there is no room in their mind or heart for others, even when those others are in need or trouble. If you confront them, they say, “I did not want to pry into their personal business,” or, “I mind my own business, as you should,” or, “I did not know they were having such difficulties,” or, “I cannot afford to help anyone else, because I do not have many luxuries myself.”
Consider Job. God bragged to the devil that Job was a perfect and upright man (Job 1:1-8). Did Job think about the poor? Did he inquire about the poor to know when help was needed? Job said, “I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I searched out” (Job 29:16). Amen! Job also said, “I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy” (Job 29:12-13).
Pure religion is thinking and doing for the poor (Pr 14:31; 17:5; Ps 112:9; Luke 19:8-9; Jas 1:27; I John 3:16-19). God does not care about your fasting, church attendance, Bible reading, or tithes, if you ignore or neglect the poor (Is 1:10-20; 58:3-7; Matt 23:23). He measures religion where it counts – in the heart and by your wallet! How much have you thought about the poor? Have you felt their pain? Have you asked about their needs? What have you done about it? Have you responded with labor or money? How much?
Financial success depends on giving to the poor, but wicked men do not give, because they greedily think they will get ahead by not giving. They are blind. You cannot become poor by giving to the poor, for the Lord will repay in abundance, even beyond what you give. Consider it well (Pr 11:24-26; 19:17; 22:9; 28:8; Luke 6:38; II Cor 9:6-11)!
Poor saints are your primary duty (Deut 15:7-11; Acts 2:42-45; 4:34-37; 6:1-7; 11:27-30; Rom 15:25-27; I Cor 16:1; II Cor 9:1-2). The only pagan poor you are bound to consider are those God brings directly in your path in a crisis (Luke 10:25-37). Only those of both types who are doing all they can for themselves are worthy. When you give to the Christian poor, there are two other bonuses to consider. First, Jesus Christ will remember your charity in the Day of Judgment (Matt 10:41-42; 25:31-46), and second, some have entertained angels unawares (Heb 13:2; Gen 18:1-8; 19:1-3; Judges 13:2-23).
If you are a woman, there is another reason for charity. If you are ever widowed, a true church will fully support you (I Tim 5:3-16; Acts 6:1-6). The qualifications for this special class of widows include a great reputation for diligence in good works, including the lodging of strangers and relief of the afflicted (I Tim 5:10; Pr 31:20; Acts 9:36-43). You can be fully vested in God’s retirement plan by investing in good works for others.
Empathy is feeling with and for others. Paul wrote, “Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body” (Heb 13:3). It is practicing the golden rule from your heart and mind (Luke 6:31). God’s law required empathy with generosity (Ex 22:21-27; Deut 15:7-11; 24:12-22; Ps 41:1), which Job practiced (Job 31:16-22). How considerate are you of others in need? How tender is your heart, and how wide do you open your hand to help them (Deut 15:7-11)?
King Lemuel’s mother taught him to intervene for the poor (Pr 31:8-9), and she taught him to only marry a woman with that kind of heart (Pr 31:20). A great measure of noble character is a person’s eagerness to help others in trouble. But this wisdom is not only for the Old Testament: it is also required in the New (Rom 12:13). Your own happiness and blessings depend on how you treat the poor (Pr 14:21; Ps 41:1-3; Acts 20:35).
What will you do about this proverb? Despise it? Forget it? Whom should you be thinking about right now? Whom will you have to your house for a meal, or take out to eat, next? Those who can repay in some way, or those who cannot (Luke 14:12-14)? Lip service is worthless and cruel (Jas 2:15-16). The omniscient God is watching your heart, mind, and wallet (Pr 15:3; Heb 4:12-13). True love that proves eternal life performs (I John 3:14-19), like the Lord Jesus Christ performed mightily for you (II Cor 8:9; 9:15).