22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23
Last week we talked about the world situation, and what it takes to have
true and lasting peace, and that it takes positive action by each and every
one of us, but without doing any violence to any part of God’s creation.
This is not a passive position; it is an active faith based work.
We also discussed how peace begins with an unselfish personal attitude that is seen in what we put on our plates and in what we wear, for if we do not soften our hearts to the extent that we will not knowingly bring harm to any animal, we will never achieve peace with our fellow human beings.
Because when we harden our hearts to the point of becoming indifferent to the suffering of animals, we will find that we have also created a separation between ourselves and God, for He wants us to have a soft heart of flesh, and not one that has been hardened like a rock.
Note what James tells us about this work by faith attitude in 2:1-18.
1. My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.
Or, we could say with a selfish attitude, for the Lord our God charges us with lovingly caring for the whole of His creation, not just ourselves.
2. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in
fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes,
3. and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,”
4. have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?
5. Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?
6. But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court?
7. Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called?
8. If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF,” you are doing well.
9. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
Think about something.
How many people do you know that have one or more beloved companion animals at home, but they still eat other animals?
Are not such people making the same kinds of distinction as one would make by favoring a rich person over a poor person?
Aren’t they knowingly choosing one emotional and feeling animal over the life and wellbeing of another emotional and feeling animal?
And, aren’t they doing this to fulfill their own desires with little or no regard for the desires of the so called “food” animals?
We were just told that these kinds of people are committing a sin.
If some people say that we are being judgmental in this assumption, then ask them why they wouldn’t consider killing and eating their own beloved companion animal.
10. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has
become guilty of all.
11. For He who said, “DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY,” also said, “DO NOT COMMIT MURDER.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.
12. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty.
13. For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.
Where is the mercy in people who kill and eat animals, or use them for
testing and experiments in laboratories, or any other exploitive way?
There is no mercy.
Yet these same people want the Lord to have mercy on them, and this passage says that they will not receive any.
We have faith in the promises of the Lord our God that one of these days He will Himself put an end to all the violence, suffering, and death in the world, and usher in His heavenly peace.
And until that time, we will do everything in our power to live in His heavenly will, and work to end as much suffering and death as we possibly can, and free as much of creation as we possibly can from its present corruption.
Isn’t this exactly what James says we should be doing?
14. What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no
works? Can that faith save him?
15. If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food,
16. and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?
17. Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.
18. But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”
Isn’t this exactly what we were talking about in the beginning?
Peacemaking is a faith based work that we are to walk in every day of our lives.
And it doesn’t matter whether we are talking about rich people vs. poor people, or personal wants vs. helping others meet their needs, or raping creation (including the animals) to meet our personal desires vs. protecting creation; it’s living in God’s heavenly will, and it all ties together.
This is why we used James’ passage in the way that we did, for whatever affects one part of our lifestyle, applies to all aspects.
And having no empathy for exploited animals and contributing to their suffering directly or with our money is in our opinion the root cause of all the violence and most of the sin in our world, just as we are told in Proverbs 12:10.
10. A righteous man has regard for the life of his beast,
But the compassion of the wicked is cruel.
A truly righteous person has regard for the whole of God’s creation.
Any person who lacks compassion for any living beings is wicked, evil or acting in sin, and is working against the teachings of Jesus and the heavenly will of God.
Let’s switch back to our discussion of wealth, as we apply living in God’s heavenly will to Proverbs 22:1-2.
1. A good name is to be more desired than great riches,
Favor is better than silver and gold.
As far as we’re concerned, a good name is one that God considers to be good,
for if it is good in God’s sight, it will also be good in the sight of our
fellow human beings.
And being found favorable in the sight of God is better than all the riches in the world.
2. The rich and the poor have a common bond,
The LORD is the maker of them all.
Just as He is the maker of all the animals.
Now let’s take a look at Proverbs 22:8-9, and see how this applies.
8. He who sows iniquity will reap vanity,
And the rod of his fury will perish.
9. He who is generous will be blessed,
For he gives some of his food to the poor.
If we do evil, God’s word says that we will perish.
If we are truly righteous and generous, we will be blessed.
God doesn’t want us to go hungry because we give everything away and have nothing left for ourselves, for we then become a burden on others; but we are to share what we have with those in need, whether they are humans or other animals.
Let’s finish our excursion in Proverbs by looking at Proverbs 22:22-23.
22. Do not rob the poor because he is poor,
Or crush the afflicted at the gate;
23. For the LORD will plead their case,
And take the life of those who rob them.
Think about this passage very carefully, and don’t limit ourselves to
thinking about poor humans.
Why do human beings raise some animals for food and not others?
The simple answer is that they are docile and are easy to raise for they don’t fight back, which also makes it much easier to kill them.
But, aren’t these people robbing these animals of their God given dignity and desire to live and enjoy life as the Lord intended from the dawn of creation?
And we know without a doubt that the Lord is pleading their case, for like all sensitive people, we hear the inner voice of the Holy Spirit reminding us of these atrocities and encouraging us to do more to help end the suffering and corruption of all creation until it is finally free.
Even if we know that these evil people will one day have to face judgment before the Lord our God, it is no excuse for us to sit back and wait upon the Lord, for tens of billions of animals are still suffering and dying every year.
Yes, we also know that sometimes all of this seems to be overwhelming, and we want to run away and hide in the wilderness or in a cave as did Elijah, when he ran away from Jezebel (1 Kings 19:3-9), or stay in our beds or try to hide from the truth.
However, all such inaction does is cause even more animals to suffer and die, for we aren’t lending our voice for the animals before the world around us.
If we allow the Lord to do so, He will strengthen us just as He did Elijah, for we all need to do more.
And those who are strengthened can also help strengthen others so that together we can help end all the indifference and cruelty.
As we said, peacemaking is a work of love and compassion.
It is never passive.
It is always active, and seeks to end our warring madness against all humans and other animals, and all other forms of violence.
We are the voice of the voiceless.