Week 2- Honoring The Poor
Honoring the poor
By Jim Copeland
Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing the fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? — James 2:2-5, NIV
In the early 2000s, at the end of a meeting of the board of directors of Habitat for Humanity International in Hyderabad, India, we met for a wrap-up session. Vera Randall from Australia talked about walking through a slum near the hotel where we were meeting. She made it a practice to visit slums whenever she traveled and encouraged other board members to do the same. When she looked into the faces of the poorest of the poor, she said she often saw the face of Jesus.
Vera’s observation has stayed with me over the years, and as I’ve walked through poverty-stricken cities or served a meal in a homeless shelter, I, too, have sometimes seen divinity in the eyes of the poor.
How could this be? The answer is found early in the Scripture: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27, NIV).
Connecting with people in need as we work together to build a house or simply making eye contact with less fortunate neighbors promotes dignity and hope. This has been a core principle of Habitat for Humanity since its founding.
What a privilege to see the face of Jesus! During this Lenten season, may we seek out ways we can encounter Jesus by honoring the poor.
Lord, please remind us to look into the faces of the poor — that in so doing, we may promote dignity and hope and know that we are all made in Your image. We are neighbors called to care for each other. Amen.
When have you felt the presence of God as you extended your hand to a person in need?
In social situations, have you ever gravitated toward a well-off person while ignoring someone obviously poor in material goods? What will you commit to do differently?
In your work with Habitat, how are you promoting dignity and hope and honoring people in need of adequate shelter?
Jim Copeland is a former member and vice chair of the board of directors of Habitat for Humanity International.
Rather than emphasizing what you will “give up” for Lent, focus on positive actions you can take to demonstrate the extraordinary love of Jesus.