I was walking through the historic cemetery in our town when I noticed a sign with the word “Pauper.” In the 1800’s, sections of cemeteries throughout the United States had dedicated areas to bury the poor. There were other signs in these cemeteries that defined the burial plots for fraternal organizations and religious affiliations. It was the sign with the single word “Pauper” that caught my attention and tugged at my heart.
A dictionary definition notes a pauper to be “a person destitute of means, a very poor person who relies on charity.” We don’t use the term anymore. Though the word seems antiquated, it can still define the financial and social status of some people. While there are people of faith who struggle for the material needs of daily life, their real value is never determined by the social designations people attach to their life. Every human being deserves dignity, not designations.
Our true value is only determined by God, not by any cultural placard placed over our life. I know that in the pauper section of the historic cemetery lie buried followers of Christ who did not have much in terms of physical wealth or social status. These believers were wealthy beyond human measurement because they were loved by God. Today, many of their graves are unmarked, but in the life to come, they will be wearing crowns studded with the gems of their faithfulness. That will be the ultimate and final declaration of their value and the only true measurement of how they lived this life.
“But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2: 4-7).