Missiology Through Scripture – Job 31:15-22

“Did not he who made me in the womb make him? And did not one fashion us in the womb? ‘If I have withheld anything that the poor desired, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail, or have eaten my morsel alone, and the fatherless has not eaten of it (for from my youth the fatherless grew up with me as with a father, and from my mother’s womb I guided the widow), if I have seen anyone perish for lack of clothing, or the needy without covering, if his body has not blessed me, and if he was not warmed with the fleece of my sheep, if I have raised my hand against the fatherless, because I saw my help in the gate, then let my shoulder blade fall from my shoulder, and let my arm be broken from its socket.’” – Job 31:15-22

Caring for the poor, widow, fatherless, needy, and sojourner (Job 31:31-32) are commanded in the Old Testament (Ex 22:21-27; Lev 19:33; Deut 24:17-18) and the New (Mat 6:2-4, 25:43; Acts 20:35; 1 Tim 5:3; Jam 1:27). It is foundational for being a disciple of Christ. Caring for those in need demonstrates our understanding of our own neediness and of the grace and mercy God has shown us. Job viewed these actions as fundamental to his relationship with Yahweh and as basic entry-level actions for all who follow God. Job is affirming he is not being punished because of a neglect for those in need. The implication is that a neglect of the needy, in Job’s mind, would warrant punishment from God.

Some believe Christians are to be concerned only with spreading the intellectual gospel, found in evangelism, and theological instruction. That is, however, contrary to Scripture. Christ’s life and his words are clear. Our Lord commands us to serve those in need as a demonstration of our love for him (Mat 25:31-46; Mar 9:41; Luk 14:12-14; Heb 13:2). Some might argue, it is harder for a sinner to hear the truth when he is cold, tired, and hungry. Thomas Aquinas stated, “Now a corporal alms is sometimes more welcome to a needy man than a spiritual alms. Therefore bodily almsdeeds are of more account than spiritual almsdeeds.”[1] Should we, the chosen of God, not explain the truth of Christ with our mouths and our hands?

The most important thing we can give the lost is the truth of eternal salvation found only in the following of Jesus Christ. However, the spreading of the gospel of Christ was never intended to be divided into word or deed. Our actions toward the needy are a reflection of our heart. If we do not serve the needy, do we truly have faith in Christ? (Mat 7:26; Jam 1:22, 2:17)


[1] Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne, n.d.).