They trample on the heads of the poor as on the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed. Amos 2:7

I expect prophets to preach against spiritual issues like idolatry, apathy in worship and moral sins. Yet the prophets’ complaint against God’s people also includes taking advantage of underprivileged people and denying them justice when they’re oppressed. God’s heart goes out to the poor and downtrodden.

In the recent bushfires in Australia, many lost their homes and some unscrupulous landlords in the area immediately increase the rent of their vacant properties. Demand had suddenly increased so these landlords felt justified in charging excessive rent. They took advantage of another’s hardship and denied them justice. There was a public outcry and I felt God’s pain. His heart is against those who take advantage of the distress of others.

Previously Amos had written against those who “sold whole communities of captives to Edom, disregarding a treaty of brotherhood” (1:9).

Taking people captive and treating them like merchandise is another thing that breaks God’s heart. In our society drug dealers, porn-sellers, sex workers do the same thing. They take people captive by trapping them into addictive behaviours for their own gain. They use people like commodities and God is not impressed.

How we treat other people reveals our attitude. Are we proud, self-righteous, or arrogant? If so, we won’t treat people well. We may know those who have made bad decisions in the past which has caused us to lose respect for them. However, we separate the behaviour from the person. Their behaviour may be obnoxious but God still values their personhood.

Regardless of people’s behaviour, spiritual beliefs or social standing, we treat them with respect since they’re made in the image of God.