Concern for Justice

A fountain is something I’ve wanted for myself as long as I can remember.  I used to live near a friend who had a conservatory with a fountain just outside it.  You could sit there listening to the birds singing and the water bubbling …  I joked that for me, the commandment:  “Do not covet your neighbour’s house” should read:  “Do not covet your neighbour’s fountain.”


I love water-features, in garden-centres or in formal gardens, and here God talks about justice flowing like a river, and goodness like a never-ending stream.  He repeats His displeasure at the oppression of poor people, and assures Israel of His presence with them if they would do good.  Any worship-rituals the Israelites performed were worthless to God while there was no love of justice in the land.


Giving Is … Doing Good

I suppose one of my associations with giving would be the Bible-passage at the end of Matthew chapter 25, where Jesus talks about the sheep and the goats.


“The people of all nations will be brought before Him, and He will separate them, as shepherds separate their sheep from their goats.


He will place the sheep on His right and the goats on His left. Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘My father has blessed you!  Come and receive the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world was created. When I was hungry, you gave Me something to eat, and when I was thirsty, you gave Me something to drink.  When I was a stranger, you welcomed Me, and when I was naked, you gave Me clothes to wear.  When I was sick, you took care of Me, and when I was in jail, you visited Me.’


“Then the ones who pleased the Lord will ask, ‘When did we give You something to eat or drink? When did we welcome You as a stranger or give You clothes to wear or visit You while You were sick or in jail?’


“The King will answer, ‘Whenever you did it for any of My people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for Me’” – Matthew 25:32-40 (Contemporary English Version).  I’ve seen a church prepared to organise a dinner for homeless people and wash their feet; I know of someone in hospital – a patient herself, and yet she’ll talk to others she doesn’t know, taking care of their needs when nurses aren’t around … and tonight I’ve just read about my favourite organisation, yet again doing good in the midst of despair.  You probably won’t be surprised I’m talking about Compassion.


Do you sponsor a child in Haiti?  If not, maybe you’ll want to after reading this story.  To summarise, a team from Birmingham went out to Haiti to see first-hand the poverty there.  The writer says:  “This was not a place for cameras and photographs, as to take photographs would have been an invasion of their dignity. …  I wanted it to be a living photograph imprinted on our minds and hearts …  We heard the constant sound of a baby screaming, a child coughing relentlessly, and another crying with hunger.”  That really hit me.  If you’re a sponsor, next time you pick up one of your child’s letters, try to imagine those sounds in the background – a crying baby; a sick child …  That could be their reality every day.  Doesn’t it make you think how important your words are?


The writer goes on to talk about Compassion giving food and water to children and their families in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, but that group from Birmingham gave something very important too:  Themselves.  Knowing people cared enough not just to look at their situation but to come right into it must have made a huge difference to those children.


Giving is doing good.  What does that look like for you?  Compassion works with local churches to make sure provisions get to those who need them.  Would you consider being a part of that?  Perhaps you could search Compassion’s gift catalogue to see how you could help.