Summary: The rich and the poor meet together. The Lord is the maker of them all

Plato, the Athenian philosopher, once stated: “Wealth and Poverty: The one is the parent of luxury and indolence, the other of meanness and viciousness and both of discontent. Proverbs 22.2 informs us: “The rich and the poor meet together; the Lord is the maker of them all.”

Life is like the two sides of a coin which depicts our fortune. One side could be considered as affluence, the other, as deprivation. Whichever side the coin lands when it is flipped into the air at birth, determines the quality of the start in life. In certain countries, education is non-existent if one is poverty-stricken unless sponsorship is provided by an endearing and compassionate fellow human being, often located in a different country. The need for a good basic education is of paramount importance in ensuring a future prospect of employment, thus reducing long-term impoverishment and affording an income for families. Healthcare is similarly affected. In some countries, there are often two hospitals in the same district. One for the rich and the other for the poor. The healthcare standards provided by the two are as different as chalk and cheese.

Our abode is another important factor in life. Our circumstances will deem whether it be on the streets, in a mud hut in the wilds of nowhere or in a mansion in the heart of the beautiful countryside. We should remember, however, that the mansion will not guarantee our gateway to heaven. Matthew 6:19-21 states: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” There is a saying that "Charity begins at home" Leviticus 25:35 reminds us: "If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you.” If we can help others, then our Christian responsibility should be to do what we can, as even the smallest donation can mean a lot to those in need. People with wealth should never become blind to the poverty that prevails globally. Generosity is the fountain of all goodness. Showing concern and love for others less fortunate than ourselves is what Christianity is all about. 1 John 3:16-18 states: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

There is a true story about a wealthy man who lived in a luxury villa close to the top of a hill just outside Costa Adeje, with spectacular panoramic views over the island of Tenerife. He used to walk daily down to the local town to do his shopping and to achieve some necessary healthy exercise at the same time.

On the way to the town, he regularly passed three public phone kiosks, situated opposite a water theme park, which were frequently used by tourists and local residents alike. One day as he approached the kiosks, he was greeted by a middle-aged man whom he had never seen before. The man smiled and said: "You live in that attractive villa on the hill don't you?" The wealthy man replied: "Yes. That's right."

The man asked: "Do you enjoy living on this beautiful island in the Canary Islands?" The wealthy man replied: "Yes, it is truly idyllic." After some further pleasantries, the stranger asked him if he had any small change on him so that he would be able to make a phone call. The wealthy man searched his pockets and produced five single Euro coins. He offered them to the man and asked him how many he needed. The man replied: "Would it be okay if I took all of them?" The wealthy man answered: "Certainly." And offered his other hand to receive what he expected to be a five Euro note in return. The man stated: "Oh no, I haven't actually got any money, I just needed some coins to make a phone call.!!"

The wealthy man smiled, realising that he was being subtly requested for a donation and replied: "Okay, have the call on me." The following day as he made his daily trip to the town, he saw the same man approaching another person requesting the same thing. It was now becoming blatantly evident that this person was making a living in this rather unique way. The wealthy man saw him many times after that performing the same act to unsuspecting tourists and passers-by.

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