TREAT EVERYONE WITH DIGNITY
Two men went to church in a city one Sunday. One came in an SUV. He wore a black designer suit and expensive cologne. The ushers fussed over him and took him to the plush seats in the front row of the church auditorium. The other man came on foot. So he was sweating from trekking the five kilometres from his home in a nearby village. His shirt and trousers were discoloured and threadbare while his rubber slippers were sewn in several places. The ushers frowned when they saw him. One blocked his way into the auditorium and directed him to a seat in a canopy outside. He protested because he had arrived early and the auditorium was half empty. An argument ensued and a senior usher intervened, directing the man to the wooden benches at the back of the auditorium where other poorly dressed and sickly folks were seated.
The story above is my embellishment of a Bible passage (James 2:1-9) that admonishes us against dishonouring the poor. It reminds me of another story of how a founding pastor disguised himself as a destitute and stayed outside some of his churches on Sunday mornings to see how church members will react. He later posted a video on Facebook about his experience which has since gone viral. (See video before Scriptural references below.)
The video shows that while not everyone did, quite a few of the congregants offered food, prayer, kind words and invitations to church to the homeless man. These are the things the Lord would have us do – help those in need whenever we can and not look down on them because of their unfortunate circumstances.It's wrong to look down on those in unfortunate circumstances. Click To Tweet
It’s very easy to rate people by the price of their clothes, their level of education or their bank balance and treat poorly those who don’t make what we in the university system call the cutoff mark (mark that must be earned to secure admission). But the value of human beings can only be properly assessed through the worth that their Maker has placed on them.
(Related: The Value Of A Person’s Life)
The most popular verse in the Bible tells us that, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” – John 3:16 (KJV) Now that’s our guide to relating with someone. God loves him or her so much that He sacrificed His only Son to save them.
And in case we’re still focusing on their present circumstances, Romans 8:32 should set us right: “He who did not spare His own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will He not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” – (NIV) The person we despise because they are living in penury today may be swimming in grandeur tomorrow because God is able to graciously give him or her all things.
And this does not only apply to those who are in the church now. Everyone deserves to be respected because we can’t all be saved the same day. As Saul, the persecutor, became Paul, the greatest of the apostles, so today’s drunkard, swindler or whatever else they are entangled in now could be tomorrow’s saint and entitled to the covenant inheritance in Christ Jesus.
In sum, everyone is deserving of dignity. Even criminals should be punished according to law, not brutalised and dehumanised. And God in His matchless grace can transform and, through the proper human agency, rehabilitate them.
Therefore, let us approach everyone with godly love and dignity, spreading the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ and affirming their true worth as special handworks of our Creator Father.Everyone is specially crafted by God. So approach them with agape love and dignity. Click To Tweet
(Related: But For His Grace – Short Story)
“1. My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3. and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4. have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5. Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? 6. But you have dishonored the poor man. … 8. If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.” – James 1:1-6, 8-9 (ESV)
“It is a sin to despise one’s neighbor, but blessed is the one who is kind to the needy.” – Proverbs 14:21 (NIV)
“God is mighty, but he does not despise anyone! He is mighty in both power and understanding.” – Job 36:5 (NLT)
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers
New International Reader’s Version (NIRV) Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1998, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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