Do you consider yourself blessed if you are poor?
In the little class of 1st grade through 8th grade students that I teach, we have had some little discussions on money. I sometimes bring in special food treats that complement the subject I am teaching. The kids were saying that I needed to bring in something else to do and were giving suggestions, and I replied that I was not made of money. Which I am not. However, that wasn’t a great response as I want to be an example to my students that is counter-cultural to the emphasis that is placed on money.
See, we live in a culture that glorifies money. Money equals success, and we always want more.
We want bigger houses, nicer cars, and more toys — as a culture. We show “partiality” to those who have more things and bigger bank accounts.
Yet, the Bible has many verses that teach the opposite truth. I found it interesting that the Bible study I am doing had a whole day devoted to verses in James 2 which deals with how we treat others based on their wealth and appearance. Verse 5 says, “Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?” The study had us look at cross-references in the Bible of how God felt about the poor. Here are some of them:
- Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: James 1:9
- I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD. Zephaniah 3:12
- And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. Luke 6:20
- For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9
When I consider how many “poor” Christians there are in this world in other countries where they do not have the material wealth we have in America, yet they have an overwhelming joy in their Savior, I see the “blessedness” or the happiness that God can provide the poor.
As I read stories of missionaries and church workers such as Hudson Taylor, C. T. Studd, William MacDonald, Oswald Chambers, George Mueller, and many more who would not keep money that was given to them, yet God provided their needs, I see how God truly blessed them.
When I hear stories of how my former church started, and the leaders in the church had to co-sign their houses over to the bank so that the church could get a loan to get property and build a building and how those same families sometimes had to take a utility bill and pay it personally, I wonder, “Would I have done the same thing?” Yet, I knew 5-6 of those charter members before they passed away, and they lived a joyful, blessed life.
I weekly see members of our church in their 80’s -90’s who give sacrificially and wholeheartedly to the work of the Lord, and I ponder what the church will be like when my generation and the generations behind me are in our 80’s and 90’s. Will the work of the church go on because we also can freely give of our resources or will we have bought into the world’s thinking that status is dependent on what we have?
And then I consider the example of our great Savior who “though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” Thinking about this verse brings me back to the right perspective. I am SO, SO rich already if I know Christ as my Savior. Here is what the Christians in impoverished countries are living out. They are rich — we are rich — if we are saved.
Here are some of our riches:
- We have eternal life and a Comforter who guides us.
- We have the Word of God.
- We have the peace that passes all understanding.
- We have Him as our dwelling place and His everlasting arms under us to support and carry us.
- He can give us true joy that the world knows nothing about.
Why would we want what the world says they can give us when we can have what only God truly can give us?
Now, I always end a discussion like this by stating that I am not saying it is wrong to be rich. It is wrong if treat those who are rich better than those who are poor. It is wrong if we live for riches or possessions. It is also wrong if we are poor because we will not work if we are able to work. I also think that those who have much given to them have a huge responsibility to use their finances wisely for God’s glory.
After studying James 2 and the cross-references today, here is what I wrote in my journal about being poor:
It is not a bad thing to be poor — in fact the opposite is true. Wealth matters nothing to Christ and poverty is blessed if it is done for Christ’s sake. This is counter-cultural and something that will not be understood by the world.
No, our family is not poor. We actually have more than many Americans have and much more than most of the world has. We live simply but have more than we need. We are so blessed. But more than the external wealth that others may see, we are rich where it matters. We have Christ. We know the truth, and the truth has set us free.
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