Despise the poor = Despise God?

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

1 John 3:17-18

I have the world’s goods.  I and my spouse are teachers.  We both have PhD’s in our fields. We are veterans (over 60 years teaching between us), and we make a very good living.  Not millionaires, but secure.  I am grateful.  And what about love?  Is there any notion of love in me?  This same epistle says that Love = God.  God = Love.

If I close my heart to the poor = no love.  No love = no God.  Isn’t it a good thing for us to have a government organization that helps us, collectively, take care of the poor?  Taxes, then, can very well be one way (not the only) that I, who have the world’s goods) see my brother and sister in need, and open my heart to them.  Closed heart = no love.  No love = no God.  Closed heart to the poor = no connection with God.

Bob Patrick



2 thoughts on “Despise the poor = Despise God?”

  1. Bob, thank you for this new blog. Your first post starts an important thread on dealing with the poor.

    One word may be a bit of an “out”, and that is the word “brother”. Some people may use this term to limit their responsibility, indicating that they help their brother in need – but not those who are not a “brother” because that is not enjoined upon them. I’m sure you will agree that this attitude is anything but what God want from His people, but it is good to close the loopholes.

    And we have an excellent example of that from Jesus. As I read the Gospels, I am struck by how many times Jesus turned questions around or answered the underlying issue rather than the voiced question. One of these times is when a lawyer (person versed in the Torah) wants to test Jesus by asking what one must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus asks the lawyer to summarize the law. He does so with the following words, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.” Jesus then tells the lawyer to go and do this.

    The lawyer, however, doesn’t want to do this and tries to justify himself by asking “Who is my neighbor?” He is hoping that Jesus will let him limit the circle of responsibility. Jesus, however, tells what we know as the Parable of the Good Samaritan and asks the lawyer, “Who was a neighbor to the one who fell along thieves?” In other words, Jesus turns the question around from “who is my neighbor” to “to whom am I being a neighbor?” He then tells the lawyer to go and do the same, i.e. be a neighbor to those in need by showing them mercy.

    In the same way, we need to understand “brother” in a sense that asks us, “To whom am I acting like a brother?”

    Just a few thoughts on the matter.


    1. I see this eye to eye with you. It’s immediately a problem of time, culture and language. I understand “brother” to mean “fellow human being.” I hear that in what you write as well. Some ma use brother to mean one who believes as they do, one who is a member of the same religious community; one who is the same gender (male) as they. These are all short sighted, and as you point out, inattentive to the style and message of Jesus who constantly turned things upside down. Who is my brother? His message clearly is that your “brother/sister” is any other fellow human being.

      Thank you for taking a look at what I am doing here and for contributing so richly. Please, continue!


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