"Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked" (Psalm 82:4).

I heard voices quietly talking in my daughters' bedroom as I put the laundry away in the hall closet. My oldest daughter was coercing her younger sister into trading something with her. Because I couldn't see what was going on, I assumed they were trading old stuffed animals or some other inexpensive toy. As I walked past the door to their room, however, I saw my younger daughter replacing her piggy bank on the shelf. Questioning the transaction, I went on with my work and waited until my older daughter left the room. When my younger daughter was alone, I quietly asked, "What did you just trade with your sister?"

"Oh, she just traded a whole dollar for my new doll!" she replied excitedly in her little girl voice.

"What?" I cried. "Your new doll was worth more than a dollar, and your sister knows that!" Disgusted, I called my older daughter back into the bedroom. Our homeschooling was going to have to wait. Apparently, a discussion on deceitfulness was of first importance today.

Taking advantage of the young, old, innocent, or the less fortunate is detestable in God's sight. Joseph's brothers discovered that fact after their aged father suffered emotionally from their lie. For years, they had let Jacob believe Joseph had been eaten by a wild animal (Genesis 37:33). God eventually exposed their sin and deception in selling Joseph into slavery and brought a similar mental anguish into their lives as they stood before an angry official in Egypt. Not knowing the official was their brother, they feared for their lives as Joseph dealt severely with them after they had come to Egypt to buy grain.

What about you? Do you look for ways to protect the needy from being taken advantage of by others? Have you taught your children to do the same? Greed, jealousy, and lust are powerful forces that cause others to use people for their own gain. God needs you to stand in the gap when you see little ones or the elderly being mistreated. Will you be their advocate today? "Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy" (Proverbs 31:8-9).

Lord, thank You for the loving protection You provide our family each day. Use us to shield and shelter those who are unable to defend themselves from being mistreated by others. In Jesus' name, Amen.