Thanksgiving and Christmas usher in a heightened awareness of one’s life and those around him. At least, one hopes that is the case. It’s encouraging at times to see social media, television, and print outlets highlighting the importance of being thankful and giving to those in need. Of course, the cynic may respond by saying, “This sort of thing is to be expected this time of year. Once the New Year turns, people will devolve into their self-centered lives.” Admittedly, there’s some truth in the cynic’s sentiment. I’m reminded of the following scripture out of Zechariah 7:10: “do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.’”
If I had to bet money, and quite a bit of it, too, I’d say that those words in Zechariah sound more like all the time rather than some of the time. Don’t get me wrong. I’m thankful for the elevated awareness of what I have and what I have to offer to others. The same is true across culture and society. Every holiday season, the compulsion to give or share something with others reaches heights rarely attained for the rest of the year. On some level, I wish that wasn’t the case. Am I obeying Zechariah 7:10 in my life? Have my words and actions oppressed the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, and the poor? Let me widen this out a bit more. If a community’s actions and words oppress those people groups, then one begins to wonder about the city, the county, the state, and the entire nation.
Here’s the intriguing thing about the Zechariah passage and the entire book itself. The prophet Zechariah directs those words to the entire nation of Israel. He didn’t direct those words to just those able to help the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, and the poor. All present heard the words whether young and old, rich and poor. It’s a universal edict, which means it applies to everyone. Who knows the set of circumstances that may send one tumbling into any of those groups. This calls for humility, wisdom, and generosity. May the Holy Spirit grant us those attitudes in order to live out Zechariah 7:10. The widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, and the poor need them from us. Until Christ returns, we are his hands and feet.