The message of Advent
“If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother.
“But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.” – Deuteronomy 15:7-8
Being desperate can be called a condition of life. The Bible is full of desperate people. Have you ever been desperate? Are you desperate or in a desperate situation today?
Desperate people are vulnerable and often fall prey to the unscrupulous. When the prophet Gad confronted King David on behalf of the Lord, he gave him three options of punishment; one of them was three months of running from his enemies while they pursued him. The king responded, “I am in a deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands.” – 2 Samuel 24:14
Through his response, the king acknowledged that God is merciful. He will not destroy us in our weakness, particularly when we seek his mercy. However, in this world of sin, our enemies are seldom merciful. When we are down, they will place their foot upon our neck and grind us into the dust.
It is always tempting to exploit someone who is desperate. It is like prancing upon a lame animal in the forest. A friend of mine once said to me, “Never steal from or take advantage of the poor.” Over the years, I have tried to live by those words.
Recently, in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, many of our brothers and sisters relocated to New Providence from their hurricane-ravaged communities on Abaco and Grand Bahama. Unfortunately, many of these people were desperate. Many had lost everything.
A good number of them came to New Providence with only the clothes on their backs. They were really down on their luck. The hurricane had deprived them of much of their earthly possessions.
As fellow citizens of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, we should have received them as we would prefer to be received if the situation was reversed. Unfortunately, in many cases, this has not been so.
I have spoken to quite a number of persons from Abaco about the exploitation taking place on New Providence. They complain that they are being abused by fellow citizens of this nation.
Many greedy and selfish landlords, here on New Providence, are taking advantage of our unfortunate brother’s and sister’s misery. I am peeved that there are Bahamians who can be so callous in dealing with the misery of other Bahamians.
They seize a limited window of opportunity to fleece hurricane-ravaged individuals who have relocated to New Providence, to enrich themselves. These people, as has been reported to me, substantially overcharge for rental apartments which ordinarily go for far less. They do it simply because they can. This behavior is unconscionable.
For us who call ourselves Christians, scripture tells us in Proverbs 22:22-23: “Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court, for the Lord will take up their case and will exact life for life.” The few dollars that you extract will not profit you much. It will probably cause you more harm than good.
We are our brothers’ keeper. We should not take advantage of, or exploit, those we should be helping. Our Lord reminds us in Matthew 25:40, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
We are presently in the season of Advent. As we celebrate, let us be mindful, God has been merciful to us and has called us into his marvelous light through his son Jesus Christ. Therefore, let us give praise and glorify God by receiving one another in brotherly love.
The people of Abaco and Grand Bahama will probably have a bleak Christmas because their world has been turned upside down. Let us, here on New Providence, give them a ray of hope, first in Christ Jesus and, secondly, through the love and kindness that we show to them. This is the message of Advent. Amen.
• Rev. Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at The Lutheran Church of Nassau, 119 John F. Kennedy Drive, can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas; or telephone: 426-9084; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.Nassaulutheranchurch.org.