“Speak up for people who cannot speak for themselves. Protect the rights of all who are helpless. Speak for them and be a righteous judge. Protect the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31:8-9, GNT
Early in the Bible, God asked Cain: “Where is your brother Abel?” A bit arrogantly, Cain answered the Lord: “Am I supposed to take care of my brother?” We have to ask ourselves the same question. The Bible, as I understand it, seems to be clear on the matter. Yes, God does expect me to take care of my brother, sister and also the stranger.
This “caretaking” includes a wide spectrum of things. It includes that I should make sure that people are not hungry, cold or wanting in their physical needs. It means that I should help believers who do not have the means to buy a Bible, to get one. I am also responsible for the emotional and spiritual well-being of other people.
The proverb of today touches another aspect of “caretaking” that we tend to neglect too easily, as it is a bit of a thorny issue. Nevertheless, it is something God wants us to do: “Speak up for people who cannot speak for themselves ... the helpless ... the poor ..."
In a book called Stories vir die Lewe, I read about Pastor Martin Niemöller who said that during the Second World War, the enemy took away all communists in their little town first. He did not speak for them because he was not a communist. Next, they took away the Jews, then the union members and then people of the Roman Catholic Church. He still did not speak up as he was not Jewish, a union member or a Catholic. So, when the enemy finally came to take him away, there was nobody left to speak for him.
In our society, there are so many voiceless people – people who are powerless due to their circumstances, people seeking and pleading for a better life – but nobody takes note. In most instances, there is nobody willing to speak for them. Let’s look at two examples. Your child comes home from school and tells you about another child being bullied. You do nothing, because it is not your child that is being bullied. A colleague is harassed by the floor manager, but you keep quiet because you are afraid of the repercussion if you blow the whistle.
Let us be more courageous and do what God wants us to do. Let us speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.
Prayer: Our Father, please make me a voice for those without a voice. Please let there be somebody to speak for me when I might come to a point where I cannot speak for myself anymore. Amen