“There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.” – Deuteronomy 15:11 NIV
“Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” -Proverbs 14:31 NIV
It can buy a House
But not a Home
It can buy a Bed
But not Sleep
It can buy a Clock
But not Time
It can buy you a Book
But not Knowledge
It can buy you a Position
But not Respect
It can buy you Medicine
But not Health
It can buy you Blood
But not Life
It can buy you Sex
But not Love
So you see money isn’t everything. And it often causes pain and suffering.
I tell you all this because I am your Friend, and as your Friend I want to take away your pain and suffering…
So send me all your money and I will suffer for you.
I accept cash, money orders, personal checks, and credit cards.
Some of us dream of having nice things – a nice house, a nice car, nice clothes, shoes, gadgets. Nothing’s wrong with that unless that’s all we think about and we forget the more important things in life. Like learning something new, listening to someone who had a bad day, or helping someone in need.
The last barangay we helped was quite an experience for me. It’s a squatters area which was completely washed out by 15-meter high waves and black mud caused by Yolanda. Interestingly, to get to this poor area, you have to pass through a posh village. This village has only 30 huge houses, some of them newly built. As we passed through it’s quiet streets, we noticed something eerie about the place – some parts of the roof were gone, windows were shattered, there were no people or pets. Almost all of the houses were abandoned. It was a clear picture for me that you can’t bring your nice big house to heaven.
Upon reaching the barangay, something caught my eye – THE WALLS THAT DIVIDED THE RICH FROM THE POOR HAVE BEEN BROKEN DOWN. The water surge destroyed it. Both the rich and the poor now found themselves in the same spot – both were helpless, both were in need, both had to line up for food and water. In the end, we’re all the same – human.
I met a lady, probably in her 60s, who survived the storm. She shared her story with gusto, that what saved her was a pack of unopened adult diapers which served as a floater. Remember Arthur from last week’s devotions? Arthur saw this lady talking to me and he could not help but express his disappointment to me when she left. He said, “Anong ginagawa ng babaeng yan dito? Diyan sila nakatira sa malaking bahay na ‘yan (pointing to the big house nearest us). Hindi man lang nila kami tinulungan nung nangailangan kami. Ni minsan. Ngayon, makikipila siya dito?” (“What is she doing here? They live in that big house over there. They never helped us when we were in need. Not once. Now, they want to lineup her?”)
You could sense the bitterness in Arthur’s heart…I spoke to him in our language, “Arthur, isn’t it that the best revenge is love? Look at what’s happening now: she’s the one who needs your help now. She owes you something now. So help her anyway.”
What goes around, comes around.
I was reminded to be kind to everyone. Especially to the poor. I’ve long stopped arguing or haggling with taxi drivers and tricycle drivers who charge too much. I just give the best tip I can because they, too, have families to take care of. They’re not really rewarded in our country. As my village has taught me, as best as I can, I give good tips to waiters, gasoline boys, hairdressers, cleaning ladies, etc. I smile more now to them & find ways to appreciate them. This is humanity.
This new year, may we focus on more eternal, more kingdom, more heavenly things. No matter what storms may come this year, may we still behave like human beings who care for others. May we never forget our dear brothers and sisters who are in need. May others breathe easier because we live – this is real wealth.
A BLESSED New Year to everyone!