Reading Proverbs 14:1- 35
There is a story told that one day a multi-millionaire asked to see Mother Theresa. He waited patiently while the saintly lady looked after all those around her. Eventually, she spoke to him, she simply asked the man if he would like to see Jesus. “Yes”, he replied. She lead him through a number of narrow Calcutta streets. He followed her through dirty alleyways into a filthy courtyard. At one end of the courtyard an old moth-eaten, threadbare rug was hung on the wall. She pulled back the rug and ducked behind it into a small dark room. The rich man followed. As his eyes adjusted to the gloom he saw Mother Theresa pointing at a small pile of rags in one corner.
“Jesus is under those” she said. The man went to to the rags; lying under them, with a fly crawling across his cheek was a tiny, thin man who was clearly ill. The rich man was moved, he turned to Mother Theresa, reaching for his wallet he said, ” What can I do for you?” She looked him in the eyes and said calmly, “Find someone no-one else loves and love them”.
It’s strange how we love the rich and famous and neglect the poor. I bet ‘Hello’ magazine or ‘OK”s readership would plummet if they stopped photographing the rich, famous and beautiful and their homes and spent some time photographing me and my friends (no offence guys). Vs 20 tells us, “The poor are shunned even by their neighbours, but the rich have many friends.” Our current culture’s attitude to money can be summed up by Danny DeVeto’s character in the movie ‘Other People’s Money’. He says, “Make as much as you can. For as long as you can. Whoever has the most when he dies wins.”
It’s not that money is intrinsically wrong, (vs 24), but it can lead us to put our trust in our riches and not in our God. (Vs26). When is enough money enough? Rockefeller defined ‘enough money’ as ‘always a little bit more than I have’. Longing for more and what it buys can eat us up (vs 30). Verse 31 tells us the very best way to spend our lives, talents, time and our money: “Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honours God.”
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me”. (Matthew 25:37-40 NIV)
Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker,
but whoever is kind to the needy honours God. (Proverbs 14:31)
Father, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is darkness, light. Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. In Jesus name I ask it. Amen
Jacopo di Toddi (1230-1306)
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