Those who oppress the poor insult their maker.
Galatians 4:14 (NIV)
[Paul wrote] Even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself.
Several years ago as Diane and I were on our way home we drove through an intersection we saw a woman who was begging for money. It was late and dark. She was alone. She appeared to be about 40 years old. Oftentimes when we see people like that we will say a prayer for them. Sometimes we simply pass on by. That night, even after we had turned the corner and gone a couple of blocks I felt compelled to turn around. Diane was in total agreement: we needed to see what she needed.
When we went back we discovered that she was not alone; she had a dog. And she was asking for money for dog food. We asked several times whether we could provide anything else: food or a place to stay. No, just money for dog food.
I then did something I’ve been doing for some time since. I asked her to tell me her name. “Kathy” was her reply. Kathy: that was the name of my sister who at the age of 8 had died nearly 40 years earlier. I had to take a breath, shake my head, and imagine: this woman could have been my sister, had she lived.
I don’t always stop and help people who are begging on the street corner. I get aggravated by those guys who hang out at intersections accosting people for money for some supposed charity. I’m sure I have been taken by some scamsters to whom I’ve given money along the way. But when I think of Kathy I am reminded that we are more closely related to the poor than we might imagine.
If we insult the maker of the poor when we abuse them, then we may honor their maker when we love and respect them. That’s not always easy. But when I think of Kathy, I am inclined to make the effort. If that is so, how much more motivation is it to give to when we realize that our gifts to the poor honor God and are received by Jesus himself as tokens of our love for him?