This past Sunday, a number of our students reported out on their experiences on a recent missions trip. In past years the annual missions trip has targeted international destinations . . . most commonly Mexico. But this year God led our youth to “stay at home” in order to experience a different culture. Home as in within the United States. Different culture as in the inner city of Chicago. For a week our kids teamed with Sunshine Ministries, through their Bridge Builders program, in practical acts of service, in targeted education, and, if I’m making the connection correctly between their report out and my reading this morning, in honoring the Maker.
Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors Him. (Proverbs 14:31)
Something some of our students said on Sunday resonated as I was reading in the Proverbs this morning. In essence they said that, through their experience in Chicago, they learned to see the homeless as those made in the image of God.
One day they were broken up into small teams, were told to each pack themselves a lunch as well as pack an extra lunch. Their task? Offer to have lunch with a street person and engage them in a conversation. For some of our kids this turned out to be a pretty powerful experience. From meeting Bonnie, who was on the streets because her cancer treatments had left her broke, to meeting a guy who had been on the street for years and had never had anybody seek to talk to him, our kids got down (literally) and engaged those made in the image of God. They stepped out of their comfort zones, where challenged to not just look over or around these folks on the streets, and, in so doing, looked into the eyes of image-bearers.
Solomon says that in oppressing the poor, a man insults his Maker. I’m guessing there’s application here as well to disregarding the poor . . . or ignoring the weak and lowly . . . or in automatically devising an “it’s their own fault” scenario concerning the homeless. And why would it be a reproach? Because all men and women are created in the image of God. All bear His likeness.
Conversely, so says wisdom, those who are generous to the needy honor God. Those who show favor . . . those who are gracious to image-bearers in need . . . glorify their Creator.
And it has me thinking. Shouldn’t those who have known abundant grace be generous in showing grace in return? Shouldn’t those who have been freely given treasure in heaven, though they were once poor in trespass and sin, be generous in sharing of whatever earthly riches they have? I’m thinkin’ . . .
Those born of God desire to honor God. How can we do that? Well, one way is to be generous to the needy. And I don’t need to travel to Chicago to do that.
Honoring the Maker. Freely giving because we have freely received. Being generous because we have known abundant favor.
Because of grace . . . for His glory.