Poverty is only disgraceful when it is the fruit of wrong conduct. There are any number of causes of poverty, some shameful, some honorable. “When adorned with virtuous integrity, it is most honorable, better is the poor man, than he whom riches falsely lift up and place him on a perverse pedestal. Often the rich man puts under his feet those who are downtrodden. Our society honors the perverse for their riches, and despises the poor for their poverty. But what does the rich man have if he doesn’t live a spiritual life? And what is a poor man, if he does? Better to be in the wilderness with God, than in a Penthouse without Him.”
How many of us are seduced by pursuit of the Penthouse? Too often our society does not treat the poor and the rich as equals. As a sad testimony to our worldliness, we often offer the seat of honor to the rich (or the talented), regardless of their character, and shun the simple—the poor—the very ones whom should be honored.
It is safe to say that few people in our society can be entrusted with wealth, fame, and talent without being drawn away from Virtue in some way. Just take a peek at any news source to see how prevalent this is. If only we could remember how quickly the sparkles of this world will fade.
“Death will strip the poor of his rags, and the rich of his purple, and bring them both ‘naked to the earth, from whence they came’ (Job 1:21)”. Such a promise should fill the hearts of the poor with hope as it reminds them that their dignity and their wealth are ultimately in eternity. Such a promise should fill lovers of fame and fortune with remorse and shame as it reminds them of the transience of this life compared to the joys or pains of eternity.
Let us all remember to treat the poor with Honor.