“Brother Wade,” the voice said on the phone. I recognized the voice.
“Why, hello, how are you?’
He never answered how he was; instead he moved immediately to his reason for calling, “Mom is about to lose her car.”
“What do you mean ‘lose her car’? What are you telling me?” I know this family and they are not wasteful. They are simply poor. Their breadwinner has not had an increase in salary for years. The person calling me, a member of the household, is extremely ill.
The story unfolded typically. They got in a financial bind and borrowed money (at double-digit interest rate) from a payday loan company using the only security they had, the family car. As you might expect, they overestimated their ability to repay the loan and the loan company was demanding the car.
I secured the phone number and called the loan company myself. “How much do they owe?” I asked. They gave me the figure without any permission to do so. If I tell you I will pay off their loan, will you let them take the car home?”
“We will if you will give us a credit card number,” the person on the phone answered. I wanted to be angry, but I realized I was speaking to a clerk who didn’t make the rules and could only do what was allowed.
“You’ve got it,” I answered. “Here is the credit card number.”
The true story above plays out all over our land many times a day. It’s a story of those who “have” taking advantage of those who “have not.” It’s a story of the rich fleecing the poor. The Bible is filled with condemnation for this practice. The prophets condemned the rich for standing in worship while planning to take advantage of the poor. Jesus regularly helped and defended the poor. The teacher James said it is “pure religion to take care of the widows and orphans.”
The message of the Bible is clear: when God blesses us materially, he expects us to help the less fortunate. However, greed often takes over when people are blessed; and rather than help others, they seek more.
All over our country, multiple efforts are being made to regulate this phenomenon of “the rich growing richer while the poor grow poorer,” but with little success. There is cause for national concern here. Historically, countries falter when the gap between the rich and poor becomes unreasonable.
Allow me to repeat myself: God’s plan is for those who are blessed to help those in need.
Wade Paris writes a weekly syndicated column titled “The Shepherd Calls.”