But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. – Matthew 19:30 (NIV)
Have you ever attended a business meeting whereas the temperature from the vibes of those in attendance was colder than the temperature in the room? I have a distinct memory of a similar setting. Facetiously speaking, I had to make sure I had not mistakenly walked into a meat locker. As familiar faces greeted one another, it was confirmed that I was in the correct location. Contrary to popular belief that the temperature gets warmer as people fill the room, on this occasion the temperature seemed to drop as each person walked in. The coolness may have radiated from the mixture of money and coffee that ran through their veins, where I presume blood once flowed. Prior to the inception of the meeting, there was small talk exchanged but nothing that necessitated deep thought. It was calculated just right to mask the business as usual agenda. During the meeting even though the question was asked; what can I do for you? There was an underlying message that whispered; what is this going to do for me?
It wasn’t until I met with Ben that my view of a business meeting was forever altered. As I entered his office, I introduced myself on a first named basis. As we shook hands he replied, hello my name is Ben. There was warmth about his presence that overflowed to create an inviting environment. The selection of his light brown suit seemed as though it was strategically chosen to accent the brightness of his smile. As I took my seat, I asked if I could open us in a word of prayer. He nodded in approval as though this was a moment he had been waiting for. We started to talk and I noticed it was not the business as usual meeting I had grown accustomed to. He never once looked at his watch to insinuate that his next appointment was waiting. He never once interrupted or finished my sentences. He spoke as though there was no hidden agenda. We could have talked for hours, but my friend motioned that it was time for us to go.
As we drove off, I waved goodbye to my new friend and vowed to never stereotype someone as just another homeless person. You see, my friend Ben has not always lived in a 6×6 space that housed his sleeping, eating and restroom quarters all in one. With God’s help, I was able to get past the stench and get to know him as an individual. I was able to treat him with the same dignity and respect that he was due, had I known him in his former years as a businessman. I don’t know if I had an impact on his view of life, but he sure had a profound effect on mine.
Lord, help me to look past people’s social and financial status and treat every human being with the dignity and respect they are due, simply because they are a creation of Yours.