Have You Ever Been Poor?
21 It is a sin to belittle one’s neighbor; blessed are those who help the poor.
28 A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.
We do not know why some people are in the situation they are in. It is not our place to know. We only need to help when we can.
When we use the term “poor” we often think of the homeless person sitting on the curb waiting for someone to give him a few dollars for a meal. But we can be “poor” in so many other ways. There is the poor in spirit for those without hope. The poor in compassion for those who are self-centered and narcissistic. The poor in knowledge for those of limited education. The poor in health for those who have physical infirmities. The poor in hope for those who have had many trials and tribulations. The poor in love for those who feel forlorn and without companionship, are lonely or who have lost loved ones. The poor in faith for those who do not know the Lord.
The Bible says:
“He who despises his neighbor, sins. But happy is he who is gracious to the poor.” - Proverbs 14:21
“For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.” - Proverbs 15:11
In some way, shape, or form I have probably felt poor in any number of these at one time or another. Poor in faith before I became a Christian. Poor in love when my husband died. Poor in health when I was in a wheel chair for two years after an accident. Poor in comfort when the tornado came through Petal and a giant tree crashed through the house and onto the bed where I had been sleeping…as I sat in the bathtub all alone. And, like many others, just plain old poor monetarily as a single mom with four young children.
And, yes, there was one Christmas when being that kind of poor was especially difficult.
That particular Christmas it seemed as though the forces were against me. Finances were very tight and I had exactly $150.00 to spend for Christmas presents. Then the central gas heater blew a hole through the wall and the plumber told me that he had to turn the gas off to the house. That information cost me $50.00 of the Christmas money.
I gathered my little ones around me and told them that we would have great fun going to the dollar store and buying “happy’s” for each other, but that there would be no Christmas tree. I just could not afford it.
For a few minutes it got very quiet, but then they got into the spirit of things and they accepted that there would be FEW gifts, but there would be SOME gifts.
All except for one. What I got from this child was a glare which plainly stated that I was an unfit parent. After all, what family doesn’t have a Christmas tree?
That night when the children were in bed, I curled up on the couch, watching the last embers die away in the fireplace—our only heat source- and I let the tears fall. Nothing hurts you like the things that hurt your children. My bravado was failing me. Like all parents, I wanted my children to have the joy of Christmas. What was I do to? How was I to make Christmas all it should be for my little ones? And as I cried, I prayed for guidance.
The next day we went to the dollar store and three of my children had great fun getting the best bargain for their money.
On the way home we drove through the neighborhoods so we could oooh and ahhh over all the decorations. The children were so excited and pointed to all the lights, trees, and decorations which made the homes so spectacular. As we drove past the manger scenes, there were exclamations of “Oh look, I can see the baby Jesus!” Now the excitement of Christmas had infected them all.
When we got home, there was much consternation about where we were to put the Christmas gifts. “No! Not by the fireplace… they might burn up!” “No! Not on the table….who puts Christmas gifts on the table!!” They were at a loss. Christmas presents belonged under the Christmas tree. And…..we did not have a Christmas tree.
As they awkwardly found places to set their gifts on the floor, one of my little ones looked at me with tears in her eyes and asked “Why do we have to be so poor, Mom?”
The other children got very quiet. My son was confused. He was too young to understand and he had been having fun.
His bottom lip quivered as he looked at me ….”Are we poor, Mom?” He asked as though he was questioning whether we had a dreaded disease.
Wrapping my arms around him, I smiled through my own tears and said “Not in the things which count, son, not in the things which count.”
The days passed by. The children were counting down the days to Christmas vacation. I was working two jobs and worrying.
We attended Christmas services, the singing Christmas tree, we put out Christmas decorations and worked on our thousand piece puzzle that was a tradition in our family.
And then, one evening I came home exhausted from the days work, parked my car and looked through the glass doors into the living room.
There was a beautiful Christmas tree!
All the boxes had been brought down from the attic and tinsel and garland and ornaments and lights were strewn all over the floor. And, there in the middle of the chaos was my child. She saw me and her face lit up with great joy as she ran to me and hugged me and said “The tree was just sitting outside the door when I got home. Oh Mom, it is so beautiful! Thank you so much!” I tried to explain that I had not gotten the tree, but she was too wrapped up in her sheer joy. Christmas had come to my child.
To this day I do not know who gave us that tree. I read this every year as a reminder that we should take every chance we have to spread joy to others. We do not know why some people are in the situation they are in. It is not our place to know. We only need to help when we can.
My goal for this coming year is to spread joy wherever I can. It is usually the little things which make the most impact.
Spreading cheer with smiles, kind words, a helping hand, and a generous spirit.
Buying pumpkins to decorate your yard? Give a couple to the kids who live down the street.
See someone “new” at church? Go up to them and say “I have not had the pleasure of meeting you!”
I learned a long time ago that I can’t do everything, but I can do some things. And my spiritual gift is that of service and hospitality.
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. - Hebrews 13:16
Questions To Ponder
Why is it hard to believe or imagine that in a covetous, greedy, and selfish world, that loving others can bring you joy?
What will happen if you are careful, forgiving, honest, loving, and patient toward your neighbors? Psalm 41:1-3
What does God think about those who spread rumors, innuendoes, secrets, or lies about others? Proverbs 6:16-19
How do you respond to gossip?
Scripture Memory | January | Proverbs 17:9
“Whoever would foster love covers over an offense,
but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.”