The Biblical Call is to Stand Up for Those in Need, Not Give Them Advice

How do you help those in need? Our default tendency seems to be to give advice. To give advice that is actually good is, of course, a good thing (although rare!). But the biblical call is for us to do much more than that. Consider:

“Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause” (Isaiah 1:17).

Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 82:3-4).

The way we typically act, it’s as though we take those passages to say “give advice to the weak and the fatherless; tell the afflicted that we live in a sinful world where injustice is rampant and they need to learn how to live with that; give kind words to the weak and the needy; tell people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.”

That is emphatically not what the Scripture says. Yet, we often live as if it is.

Words can be helpful. But, when you see those in need, those who have been denied justice, mistreated, fallen on hard times, or other such things, the biblical call is not to give advice and stop there. It is to listen to what the wrongs are, and then actually do something about them. “Correct oppression.” “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed” (Psalm 82:3-4, NIV).

Just people don’t just disagree with injustice. They do something about it.

  • Erin Lichnovsky

    This is a great reminder. Would love to read about real life examples. So glad to find your blog!

  • FOREBarca

    Where is the example? Does this possibly mean that one could purchase an old restaurant to possibly help the down and out through employment at the place of business? Does this mean that one could hand out monetary gifts? Please be clear when you post such advice.

  • Jim

    Good advice for the second half of the Isaiah passage. But why no italicized words for the first half? So much affliction in America is self-inflicted, the result of a sin lifestyle. Wouldn’t a passage you didn’t mention, Leviticus 19:17, be a means of grace for such people:

    “Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt.”

    Remember, this passage is one of a series that amplify the idea of loving one’s neighbor as they love themself. If one guilty of such self-inflicted injustice repents, then the continuing consequences of their injustice are to relieved in such as way as to maximize their subsequent self-responsibility and ultimate ability to share their story and the fruits of their reformed lifestyle as a means of offering grace to others.

    As to the second passage, we must understand that the call is to challenge systems of injustice, while sustaining those affected by them until the day that oppression ends. In our country, that would mainly mean opposing the injustice of indulgence and promotion of sin by political means — the “progressive social gospel” that has destroyed the means for society to shun sinful behavior, which would serve to benefit both the sinner and those that might avoid future sin as a consequence.