January 26, 2023 • Life for Leaders
Scripture — Psalm 113:7
He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
God, who is higher than any being in the universe, stoops down to help us. God raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap. Usually, God does this through the efforts of human beings committed to God’s justice and compassion. So, as we praise God for God’s care for the poor, we also make ourselves available for God to use us in this work, both through our generosity and through our work.
Psalm 113 offers praise to God who is “high above all nations” and whose glory is “above the heavens” (113:4). Yet God is not merely watching us from a distance, as the pop song claims. Rather, God is intimately involved in the affairs of this world. Among other things, God “raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the needy from the ash heap” (113:7).
How does God do this? Psalm 113 doesn’t say. But, if you think about it, though God can serve the poor through amazing miracles, like feeding 5,000 people from a child’s sack lunch, usually God acts on behalf of the poor through the faithful people of God.
One way God raises the poor from the dust is through the generosity of those who share what they have with the poor. For example, Proverbs 22:9 says, “Those who are generous are blessed, for they share their bread with the poor.” But what the poor need in addition to charity is good work, work that gives them self-worth as well as lifting them out of the dust in a long-term way. Thus, our workplaces can be part of God’s strategy for uplifting the poor if we are committed to justice and generosity.
When I lived in Texas, I worked for a family foundation related to the H-E-B Grocery Company, the largest private employer in Texas. H-E-B is beloved by folks in Texas, in part for its extraordinary commitment to helping the poor. For example, in 2020, the company donated 41 million pounds of food to food banks, a truly remarkable effort. But I would argue that one of the main ways H-E-B helps to lift people out of poverty is by providing its employees, called partners, with good work along with good wages, benefits and workplace conditions. Today, H-E-B employs over 154,000 people in Texas and Mexico.
Most of us will not be able to make an impact like H-E-B. But through our work in addition to our generosity, we can help to lift people out of poverty. When we do, God is at work in us and, indeed, God is glorified through us.
Gracious God, today we join our voices to that of the psalm writer by praising you. We bless your name, proclaiming that you are high above all nations: exalted, powerful, glorious. No being in the universe is higher than you, O God.
Yet you don’t merely gaze upon us from your lofty heights. Rather, you stoop down to care for us, to reveal yourself to us, to save us. Indeed, you raise the poor from the dust and lift the needy from the ash heap. How wonderful you are, O God!
Even as I praise you today, I ask that I might be like you. Indeed, may I be one through whom you care for and serve the poor. Help me, I pray, to be generous with all that you have entrusted to me. May I give wisely and well to those in need, often by supporting organizations that feed the hungry and house those without homes. As I give to the poor, may it be as if I’m giving to you!
May my work also be a way of lifting people out of poverty. If I have authority in my workplace, help me to see how my organization can provide good jobs for people in which they are treated justly. But even if I have little influence on the company where I work, give me eyes to see how I can serve people in need through my work.
O God, as I praise you today, I also commit myself to your work in the world. Use me and my work for your purposes and glory! Amen.
Ponder Throughout the Day
God raises the poor from the dust. How might you be able to share in this work?
For Further Reflection
Read all of Psalm 113.
You may also wish to read Isaiah 58.
Banner image by Joel Muniz on Unsplash.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project’s online commentary. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Participating in God’s Work (Psalm 113).
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.