"Then [the king] will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you have me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'
"Then they will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' " -- Matthew 25:41-45 (NIV)It's like going up a mountain.
Yes, you read the Book of Proverbs.
You take what you read, and put it into practice.
And like so many others who put these principles into practice -- like English Quakers, Brazilian Pentecostals, and members of the Salvation Army in Newfoundland . . . you manage to climb out of poverty.
So what do you do now?
Yes, do you stop, prepare an anchor, and get ready to belay the others who are making this climb?
Or do you cut them loose, and race to the top by yourself?
Talk to a sociologist such as Max Weber, after all, and you'll learn that Christian virtues such as sobriety, hard work, and thrift are exactly what you need to get ahead . . .
But listen to a preacher like John Wesley, and you're warned that "getting ahead" can lead you to neglect other virtues: virtues such as kindness, compassion, and generosity.
That's why the Bible continually reminds us that nobody climbs alone. No, we are all part of the same expedition -- rich and poor alike . . .
And as Jesus reminds us, no one is expendable; no, it's never safe to leave someone behind.
In short, be nice to people on your way up.
Otherwise, you might see them again . . .
On your way down.