“Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” (Ezekiel 16:49, NIV2)
She was just fifteen and had just graduated from a lace-making school in Brugge, far different from the universities we now know. These schools were more like children’s sweat shops, with the emphasis on sweat. She was actually a bit old to be in such a school. 5 years-old girls were attending it, hunching over lace pillows twelve hours a day.
Lace, the latest vogue, had begun to be popular in the 16th century. Even two centuries later, men favored giving lace items to their beloved ones, and it was always being received with sheer admiration. And women weren’t the only ones to adorn themselves with lace. Men, especially those in high society, used it to dress up their attire as well!
Unfortunately, those who toiled making these precious gifts were totally ignored. Thousands of girls and women sacrificed their health to make this delicate lace, and despite long hours, they hardly made enough to make ends meet. Why? Because the stores naturally received a decent profit for selling the lace, and those who served as the go-betweens between the workers and the merchants also took 15-35% of the profits. In the end, the ones who made the lace, and thus deserved to profit from it, were paid an outrageously small salary. They were generally earning less than half of what a regular factory worker was making.
Thinking about these poor people, my thoughts began to drift, and I wondered if our world has developed more compassion for these types of people. It’s then that I remembered the few times that I’ve been approached by a homeless person in search of a handout. You see, I had it all figured out! If I give this homeless person money, he will spend it on booze and make himself even more miserable. So I did exactly like the priests and Levites in Jesus’ parable “The Good Samaritan” (See Luke 10: 30-35). I passed by on the other side of the road!
What a shame! I repent now for these actions, for I am horrified that I was so filled with myself. After all, how would Jesus have reacted to such a plea?
If we don’t have the luxury of spending time with the poor in order to feed them a decent meal, the least we could do is give them support through monetary means. Love gives. Love builds up. “Knowledge puffs up while love builds up.” (1 Corinthians 8:1, NIV2). It is not our place to make their decisions for them. Our place is to give, encourage, and support.
How many poor have we helped so far? Unless we live on an otherwise uninhabited island, there are poor around us everywhere. They are hungry for relief from their circumstances, and even more so, they hunger for hope. Will we provide them with what they hunger for?
It is true that there are those who specialize in deceit. They aren’t poor at all, nonetheless, they beg for money. We all have met this kind of person. Let us not fall into the trap of “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,” (Matthew 24:12, NIV2).
Love is always the answer. If it were not for the fact that love came down from heaven, where would we be? Where would our hope be? If love had not been willingly to die on a cross for each one of us, where would we turn? Love is the answer to all problems, our own included.
Would you like to buy some lace? Your beloved one will sure enjoy it.
But . . . Isn’t love much more than superficially-purchased goods?
(To access the entire “The Question About Love” devotional series, please click here.)