Being Poor – Theology Informal Essay
My daughter had a startling revelation. It happened in her freshman year of high school. One day she came home in tears. After supper she tearfully asked, “Dad, why didn’t you tell me we were poor?” The question momentarily shocked me and grieved my heart. All normal fathers want to adequately provide for their families.
I asked her, “Who said that we were poor?” classmates,”she answered while wiping a “Some of my friends and tear from her eye. “We are not rich but we are not poor,” I replied. “Have you ever gone hungry? Do you lack clothes to wear? Don’t we have a house to live in with running water, indoor plumbing, and electricity? It’s true, we are not rich, but we are not poor.”
A couple of years later my daughter was blessed to go on a youth mission’s trip to an Indian reservation in Arizona. There she saw stark, grinding poverty. She is now preparing to be involved in medical missions and hopes to someday serve in some capacity in Africa.
Perhaps the word poor is a relative term. When one is really poor, they don’t need to be told, they know it, feel it, and live it. A young man became addicted to drugs. He lost his friends, family, and dignity. One night he climbed into a dumpster for the first time. He suddenly realized that he was poor, destitute, bound, and friendless.
Jesus loves the poor. He came “to preach the gospel to the poor” (Matthew 11:5). A rich, religious young man came to Jesus. Jesus told him to sell everything he had and give to the poor. “And you will have treasure in heaven and follow me.” The young man went away sad because he had much riches. Jesus told a parable in which the master told his servant to go out into the highways, hedges, streets, and lanes of the city and bring in the poor, maimed, lame, and the blind to a great feast, because the rich had spurned the master’s invitation. (Luke 14:16-24)
David tells us to praise the Lord because, “He raises the poor out of the dust and lifts the needy out of the ash heap” (Psalm 113:7). God doesn’t condemn the poor. His ears are open to their cry. God’s people are commanded to “Open your mouth for the speechless . . . and plead the cause of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8-9). God blesses those who deal out their bread to the poor. (Isaiah 58) “Pure religion and undefiled is to visit the widows and orphans and minister to their needs” (James 1:27). James reminds us that God shows no favoritism nor should we. “Listen, my beloved brethren, has not God chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?” (James 2:1-8).
Why does God love and care about the poor? Consider how God demonstrated His love towards us. (Romans 5:8) We hear a lot of rags to riches stories, but few riches to rags stories. Jesus left the glories and riches of heaven to be born in a stable and become one with us. (Philippians 2) The Apostle Paul focuses on this mind-boggling revelation in his epistles. “For you know, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (II Corinthians 8:9). If you have Jesus you are rich in God’s grace, mercy, blessings, and eternal life.
Is every believer to be rich in this world’s goods? Is the American Dream the promise of the gospel? Are material goods the proof of faith and Christian maturity? Paul knew the secret one contentment in all things. “Rejoicing as poor, yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things” (II Corinthians 6:10).
Jesus taught us to pray and trust God to supply our daily needs. He told us that our heavenly Father takes care of the birds of the air and we are more valuable to Him than they. (Matthew 6:1-4, 19-21) God promises to supply our every need “according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). We must only trust and obey Him.
Jesus gave us a key to the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). It is the poor in spirit who realize that they need Jesus and God’s grace and mercy. To them belong the riches of God’s kingdom.
Jesus rebuked the church of Laodicia who thought that they were “rich, increased with goods, and in need of nothing . . . and do not know you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17). That’s really being poor!
If you have Jesus you are never poor. You are rich indeed! But we must always be “poor in spirit” and see our need of Jesus as Savior and Lord. Jesus invites you to come to Him for true riches.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if any man hear my voice and opens unto me, I will come into him and sup with him and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).