Do I recognize someone who is vulnerable when I see one? Do I take the time to slow down and acknowledge that someone is laboring under a burden that I perhaps might be able to relieve – at least in part? Or, am I the type of person who makes the burden even greater? Do I take advantage when someone grows weak?
“You shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” The memory of Amalek was one in which the strong preyed upon the vulnerable. As the Israelites came out of Egypt, they were quite vulnerable, only recently emerging from the yoke of slavery. They weren’t yet a competent military force. They had no Iron Dome.
While the Israelites won the battle through the grace of God (Exodus 18:8-16), they were not to forget the ways of the Amalekites. The Amalekites were ruthless antagonists, attacking those who lagged behind, those who were weak and weary. They targeted the most vulnerable of a very vulnerable people. They were relentless in their treachery and savagery.
We see a more muted version of this competitive and attacking nature in the world around us. Even at a young age, we relish in seeing people become vulnerable. Teenagers laugh at their friends’ mishaps. Adults, meanwhile, rejoice when they exploit weak spots in each other. They swindle each other. They overcharge one another. They cheat on their taxes. They take when others aren’t looking.
God called his people to something different. They were to be sensitive to one another and to see where others are weak, not allowing those weaknesses to become crippling liabilities. They were to care for the vulnerable.
A criminal stretched out for punishment was to be given forty lashes, but not more. An ox harnessed and yoked was not to be deprived of nutrition while working, nor was a man or woman of God to be denied bread while serving (1 Corinthians 9:3-12).
A man was to care for the family line and widow of his dead brother. And a woman was not to try to cripple a man’s ability to care for his own while he was not in a position to defend himself. In business and the repayment of debts, merchants and lenders were not to cheat their unsuspecting customers with false weights and measures.
Perhaps the most important thing for us to recognize is we have been vulnerable because of our sin and yet have been sheltered by the very God who could crush us in our vulnerability. “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6).
Jesus was preaching and healing people in the cities and towns of Galilee when he paused at one moment and noticed the vulnerability of the crowd that had gathered there. “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest’” (Matthew 9:36-38).
Do I recognize the vulnerability I see in those around me? Christ did die for us on the cross, and he rose again to new life. And we rise again to new life as well (Galatians 2:20). The life we now lead is one like Christ’s, seeing the vulnerable and caring for them. He came to give rest to those who “labor and are heavy laden,” and so must we (Matthew 11:28-30).