Day 2 – The Shame of Poverty
Whoever said “there’s no shame in poverty” was either someone who was never poor or someone who learned to live above their poverty. I’m inclined to think that Jesus was the latter.
Jesus faced the shame of growing up in a poorer family.
When Jesus’ parents come into the temple to offer the sacrifice for purification after his birth, they brought a pair of doves or two young pigeons (Luke 2:22-24). This points to their poverty.
According to the Law – in God’s gracious way of covering over the shame of being poor – if a couple couldn’t afford the usual lamb and pigeon or dove when dedicating their child to God, then “a pair of doves or two young pigeons” was perfectly acceptable (Leviticus 12:1-8).
Jesus grew up in a poorer family, a lower class of society, at the lower end of the economic ladder – easier to be shamed and rejected by the more well-to-do, educated classes of society.
When Jesus began to teach that he is the bread of life that came down from heaven, the Jews grumbled about him. “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?” (John 6:42).
Their logic: “We know his parents. They’re ordinary. They’re poor. Plus, he’s not educated like us. He can’t be from heaven.” The stigma of poverty can produce shame.
Growing up I remember my mother buying most of our clothes from the secondhand Salvation Army store. I never told my classmates about that, because I didn’t want to feel the shame of growing up in a poor family. And I certainly didn’t want any of them to see me at the secondhand store when my mother was shopping there either.
Maybe you grew up in a poor family. Maybe someone told you one day that you were poor. You felt publicly shamed. If so, you can identify with Jesus, and he can identify with you.
“For your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).
Action Step: Reflect on the beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).
This is God’s Word for you today,