— noun, plural pit·ies.
1. sympathetic or kindly sorrow evoked by the suffering, distress, or misfortune of another, often leading one to give relief or aid or to show mercy: to feel pity for a starving child.>
[Definition according to Dictionary.com.]
This definition perfectly describes and captures this word. Pity. What does it mean to have pity? The Bible describes God as pitiful (or full of pity):
Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
We that are His know this to be true. We know of the pity of God. How He loves us and is merciful toward us. We know this very intimately and we are grateful! Yet there is something that we often do not consider: that the Bible also commands us to be pitiful—
Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:
Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing:but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
Now, this particular verse is speaking more concerning forgiveness for wrongs done to us. But I want to focus more on the compassion side of it. Pity for the suffering. Do we, who are being made slowly more and more into the image and glory of God, follow His example of pity? Do we pity the poor, the fatherless, the suffering, the rejected, the starving, the destitute? Do we pity and care for those in need? You know, the Bible speaks much about God being the defender of the poor:
For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy,
now will I arise, saith the Lord;
I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him.
Ye have shamed the counsel of the poor,
because the Lord is his refuge.
For the Lord heareth the poor,
and despiseth not his prisoners.
For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth;
the poor also, and him that hath no helper.
He shall spare the poor and needy,
and shall save the souls of the needy.
He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence:
and precious shall their blood be in his sight.
I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted,
and the right of the poor.
For the needy shall not alway be forgotten:
the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.
Remove not the old landmark;
and enter not into the fields of the fatherless:
For their redeemer is mighty;
he shall plead their cause with thee.
Rob not the poor, because he is poor:
neither oppress the afflicted in the gate:
For the Lord will plead their cause,
and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them.
Matter of fact, one of the primary purposes of God’s command to Israel to rest every seven years was so that the poor may be provided for:
But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat:and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy oliveyard.
See, our Lord Jesus knows the pain of the poor. He himself became poor and endured such horrid suffering. In one of the prophecies of His death, this picture is clearly painted for us:
Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness:
and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none;
and for comforters, but I found none.
Yeshua Himself wept and mourned. He Himself took on the form of man (already such a far fall from His riches in glory!), but not just a man—a poor man. A carpenter’s son. He Himself—the Lord of the universe—experienced the overwhelming trials of poverty and the pain or the lack of pity taken on the poor.
Seeing that He suffered so in poverty and that He sees the poor in their suffering, one can understand why God would have such a heavy heart for them. But He has chosen His people as the tool to provide for the poor. Now, one might think this a burden. But think. God could very easily provide for them Himself. So why doesn’t He? Why does He chose to use us? Get this: we get rewards for the good we do to them! And not just that! We get spiritual blessings and joys from it! We are taught many a spiritual lesson through them (such as humility, sincerity, temprance, faith, etc.) and find our deepest dependance on God when we are with the poor. God wants to use us so that He may bless us! It is part of His ultimate love toward us!
So, do we take pity on the poor?
I can’t help but say, “No.” on behalf of my people. My dearest friends, I look around just my bedroom (preoccupied by a sixteen-year-old girl alone) and want to weep. So cluttered that it’s hard to keep it clean, it is full of mostly junk I hardly use. And I look at myself in the mirror and want to puke. I gorge myself daily and laugh with my congregation members about how much I overeat. But this is no joke to the Lord. While we are busy hoarding it all to ourselves and working to get even more, every ~3.6 seconds someone in the world dies of hunger. Stop for a moment and take in the reality of that. It has probably taken you about 5 minutes (and that’s for the faster readers) to have read this much if this article. By the previous statistic, ~83 people died of starvation while you were reading this…………..Does anyone else notice a problem? Meanwhile, I eat enough in one meal to support an orphaned child through Holt International* for two or three days’ worth of meals! This is no joke. God takes this very seriously. Firstly, overeating is a sin (a sin of excessiveness; Philippians 4:5). Secondly, it does not just affect you. It kills other people. And considering it is done willfully, it could be considered murder to God. I don’t know. But I do know this: God takes it seriously. How much jewelry do you own? How many sodas do you drink in a day? How many concerts or expensive restaurants do you go to? How many cars do you have? And don’t think that I exclude myself in this. But this has torn me up over the past year. I cannot stop thinking about it. I no longer can laugh at overeating. I can no longer push it off like it’s nothing. For the first time in my life, surrounded by a culture that overlooks it almost completely, I am beginning to see the heart of my Lord, my Love, in this matter. And it hurts. I started noticing the passages I had simply overlooked before. And for those who will hear it, read a portion of what Scripture has to say about this (because this is by no means all of them. Simply the more promenent ones.):
Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor,
he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.
He that followeth after righteousness and mercy
findeth life, righteousness, and honour.
He [the slothful] coveteth greedily all the day long:
but the righteous giveth and spareth not.
But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
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.
Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works:shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well:the devils also believe, and tremble.
But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack:
but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.
The righteous considereth the cause of the poor:
but the wicked regardeth not to know it.
The merciful man doeth good to his own soul:
but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.
The poor is hated even of his own neighbour:
but the rich hath many friends.
He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth:
but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he.
He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker:
but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.
He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord;
and that which he hath given will he pay him again.
The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor:
let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined.
Blessed is he that considereth the poor:
the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.
Defend the poor and fatherless:
do justice to the afflicted and needy.
Deliver the poor and needy:
rid them out of the hand of the wicked.
He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed;
for he giveth of his bread to the poor.
O my dearest, dearest sisters and brothers in Christ, how often do we misrepresent our God by the lack of pity we take on the poor! This article today is a call, a call to all those who will hear, a call to band together in unity, love, pity, and compassion! This is a call to obedience to our overwhelmingly loving and pitiful Lord! Will you please join me in an effort to free the poor from not simply their physical suffering, but also their spiritual bondage? Will you not stand up for what the Lord has commanded? Will we not change the world by such a call to compassion? All the skeptics, all the critics, what will they have to say to such a thing? For long years they have rejected our God because of our lack of love. Will you not stand with me to win back the name of Jehovah? Will you not stand with me to show the world who our God, Yaweh, truly is? Not that He needs us, but that He delights in using us for His glory. So let us then stand. Let us then answer to the call of the poor, “Yaweh reigns and cares. Here He is, living in and through each and every one of His people.” Give the world the so desperately needed light. Give them the hope that they are thirsting for. Give them Jesus.
In a last closing, I want to share with you a poem that I wrote a little while back. I truly believe it was given me. It is from the perspective of a poor widowed woman. In a time of emotional distress over the poverty of people worldwide, I could not sleep. It was a quiet night. I had just watched a movie about orphans in India. I was grieved. I could find no rest. For the first time ever in my life, reality had clutched my heart and soul. In a fit of weeping and mourning and praying, the words of this poem came to me. I quickly wrote them down. Though it may not be perfect rhyme or rythem, I pray that it touches your heart as much as it did mine that night and ever since. Thank you.
Please don’t pass me by!
Please just take a look!
I may be dirty on the outside,
But please don’t judge my book!
Well, the truth is:
My soul is dirty, too.
But, to be honest,
It’s only ‘cuz of you.
You wouldn’t listen when I cried.
You’d just walk away.
Rather than give something up,
You’d have me face another day!
I am hungry; I am poor.
I know you have what I need.
Still, you just pass me by.
You simply refuse to heed!
Forget your God and your money!
You never cared for me!
If your God is so wonderful,
Why don’t you hear my plea?
You live in excess that I disgust!
Yet, I truly wish to be
In your position, in your place,
Caring only for me…
Still, you send SOMETHING my way.
I will grant you that.
But what did THAT accomplish?
You’re still getting fat!
Meanwhile, I watch the days go by,
Just hoping I’ll see another.
I never know when I will die.
Maybe first ’twill be my brother.
Or perhaps ’twill be my baby boy,
Or my daughter as she’s raped.
You watched, didn’t stop it.
You just sat and gaped!
Oh, hear, rich American Church!
Hear this fleeting word!
Justice is always done,
As you well know and have heard.
If this dirty shell hangs over fire,
And this you surely believe,
Then why don’t you do something?
‘Tis less than you can achieve!
Reason has it, you can see,
That I won’t listen to you
Until you’ve shown me some proof
Of what you say to be true.
Don’t you dare talk of MY sin!
You don’t follow your OWN religion!
You don’t stretch out your soul to the hungry!
You don’t take the homeless in!
No, I shan’t hear your Bible!
Not ’til I’ve seen your “light”,
Not ’til I see this Lord, through YOU,
For whom you verbally fight!
‘Tis all you do, you bloody souls:
Write papers and boycot things!
Show me your “pure and undefiled religion”
And what you know that brings!
Instead you mock and spit your dirty lies.
Don’t tell me “I can’t afford”!
Look at my baby whose starving to death
And give me that bloody sword!
Truly selfish are you all!
Your “sinners” treat me as well as you do!
Even THEY give to charities
And throw me a dollar or two!
The day you die, I hope you find
In the life that you now live
Some satisfaction and well done
In what you didn’t give!
Sadly still, I must confess,
Though if you hear these stabs,
You shall not change, still passing by,
Though your toe still lightly dabs.
Truth all be told, in what you do,
Your fate you surely bind!
Your kids shall waste, and you shall see
The price for being blind!
*Holt International: http://www.holtintl.org