Tuesday 27th April 2021 The Rich Stealing from the Poor
Exodus 20: 15
You shall not steal.
Proverbs 22: 22-23
Do not rob the poor because they are poor or crush the afflicted at the gate; for the Lord pleads their cause and despoils of life those who despoil them.
It’s sad to reflect that little has changed since God spoke the 10 Commandments. Old and New testament alike warn us against exploiting poor people and the prophets predicted dire consequences if the rich didn’t mend their ways… Think of Amos ranting at the wealthy classes, calling them names, and predicting horrendous consequences from God if they didn’t start to look after their servants who were paid little or nothing; or James as he too warns: “The wages of the labourers … which you kept back by fraud, cry out against you” (James 6 :4)
That theme of social justice crops up again and again, Jesus himself makes it clear that everyone has a responsibility to look after people less well-off than themselves.
Yet still the exploitation goes on.
As I write we are heading towards Fairtrade Fortnight, once again raising awareness of the predicament of farmers who provide some of our food and luxuries. I’ve just been reading about women and men who provide chocolate for our delight. I knew their situation was bad but didn’t realise the scale and am horrified to read that ‘despite the UK chocolate industry being £4 billion each year most cocoa farmers [are] living in abject poverty, typically earning just 74p a day’. SEVENTY-FOUR PENCE a day! That’s an awful example of ‘rich’ stealing from ‘poor’. If you’re a chocolate fan like me (there are more of us since lockdown began), does it cross your mind that chocolate is too cheap?
It’s easy to look the other way – maybe you don’t like chocolate, maybe we don’t think of ourselves as ‘rich’ – but who made those cheap clothes? And who harvested those vegetables?
If I’m buying cheap, I am almost certainly stealing from someone who’s living in poverty. If it seems too good to be true – it is!
Lord We pray for people trapped by poverty as they provide luxuries for those of us who don’t think we’re ‘rich’. Help us to buy with care and to look for labels that show fair trade. Lord we pray for the day when the whole world lives your Kingdom values – when we all care about and look after each other. We pray for the day when exploitation is no more Amen
Linda Rayner, non-serving elder at Bramhall URC and URC coordinator for fresh expressions.