At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Ps. 16: 11)
“A poor man that oppresseth the poor is like a sweeping rain which leaveth no food.”Proverbs 28:3
Oppressing the poor is always wrong, always sinful, but there are certain occasions when it is also suicidal. When a rich man takes advantage of the poor, he is seeking to make God his enemy, as the Word declares in many places. James gives us just one example: “Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you . . . Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter” (James 5:1, 4–5).
But rich people are not the only sinners in the world. When poor people oppress poor people, this proverb say, it is simply desolation. And desolation is desolation for everybody.
This sin is sinful, certainly, but there is no real logic to it. It is sinful, and it is also lunacy. Say that a police officer shoots a black man in the inner city, and the subsequent riots burn out any number of black-owned businesses. This is simply rage, and the rage of man never did anything sensible or worthwhile. The neighborhood where all the police officers live carries on peacefully.
Another example is when poor people police their own, not allowing anyone to be seen as getting ahead. Like crabs in a bucket, if one starts to make an escape, the others pull him back. This happens because one of the chains that keeps many poor people poor is the the chain of envy. If someone starts to make it, they have to hide the fact that they are making it—or they have to disappear quickly.
In many poor regions of the world, there is plenty of wealth above ground, but it cannot afford to be seen in public. But if it can’t be seen in public, then it cannot be put to use in the task of blessing everyone.