Loving God, replace my distortions with your revelations.
Exodus 22:21-27 (NRSV)
You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. You shall not abuse any widow or orphan. If you do abuse them, when they cry out to me, I will surely heed their cry; my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children orphans.
If you lend money to my people, to the poor among you, you shall not deal with them as a creditor; you shall not exact interest from them. If you take your neighbor’s cloak in pawn, you shall restore it before the sun goes down; for it may be your neighbor’s only clothing to use as cover; in what else shall that person sleep? And if your neighbor cries out to me, I will listen, for I am compassionate.
There are specific groups of people that this text tells us not to mistreat: resident aliens, widows and orphans, and the poor. What they have in common is their vulnerability. Whether it is limited ability to protect or provide for oneself or a lack of support from others, there are many things that make people vulnerable to exploitation.
God hates exploitation. When a person abuses his or her power, position, or wealth to take advantage of someone who is vulnerable, the abuser winds up on God’s burning wrath list. God warns us to be careful so as not to abuse or exploit the weak. God specifically says, “My wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword….” We are commanded to be protective, supportive, generous, risky, and compassionate because that is precisely how God treats each one of us.
Holy God, the more clearly we see you the more clearly we see the way we ought to live. Give us your heart for the vulnerable that we would treat them as you treat us. Amen.
May you have the eyes of Christ to see those on the margins and to have also God’s feet and hands to go and minister to them.