Are You Poor? (You need to be)

The poor useth intreaties; but the rich answereth roughly.  (Proverbs 18:23)

I remember hearing or reading once about a man who was an assistant to several very wealthy people throughout his life and he said something interesting about the effect that wealth has on people. He said that wealth doesn’t make you into anything as much as it magnifies what’s already there. If you’re generous by nature, wealth will only help you to increase your generosity. If you’re ruthless by nature, wealth will continue to make you ruthless, but with the power to finance it – a dangerous thing. If you’re brash and arrogant, wealth will only make you more so. His point was that wealth brings out whatever is already in your heart.

In the gospels, Jesus only helped those who recognized their spiritual poverty. The Pharisees considered themselves rich in righteousness. So, they were the roughest in their treatment of the Lord and received nothing from Him with the notable exception of Nicodemus. In John 11, the ruler of the synagogue demanded that the Lord come to his house and heal his son. That ruler was used to being in charge and used to giving orders. Jesus did not budge. Instead, He changed that man’s heart and sent him away with orders to trust that his son would be healed. His son was healed, and that ruler and his house humbled themselves and trusted Christ. In humility, Peter confessed that Jesus is indeed the Christ (Matthew 6:16) and in return, Jesus blessed him for his faith. That filled Peter with hubris and when the Lord announced the manner of His own death, Peter took it upon himself to rebuke the Lord. In an instant, Peter went from being blessed to being strongly rebuked (Matthew 16:23).

In his pride, Peter professed his undying allegiance to Christ during the Last Supper: “Though all men shall be offended because of Thee, yet will I never be offended” (Matthew 26:33b). Jesus predicted the exact opposite, and what Jesus predicted is exactly what happened. After the third time of being confronted for being a disciple of Christ, Peter began “to curse and to swear saying, ‘I know not the man!’” (Matthew 26:74). Thankfully, his story did not end there. Following His resurrection, Jesus challenged Peter about his allegiance and after the third time being asked by his Savior: “Lovest thou me?” Peter humbly confessed: “Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee” (John 21:17).

In every case where Jesus healed or helped someone, it was only when the recipient came to Him in an attitude of humility. What did Jesus say in His Sermon on the Mount? “Blessed are the poor.” That is not an indictment on the wealthy. Jesus was not talking about material wealth. He was talking about our spiritual condition. He will not bless us when we are rich in pride, or full of ourselves, but to this man will He look, “even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word” (Isaiah 66:2b). People like that will not make demands of the Lord. They won’t speak roughly to Him. They will intreat Him humbly and know His blessing.

[Photo by Glenn Haertlein on Unsplash]

One thought on “Are You Poor? (You need to be)

  1. Amen! Well said. As one who is poor, in all respects, your words are very true. Fullness of ‘self’, by necessity, means poverty of spirit. The two are diametrically opposed as mortal enemies. Only when we lose ‘self’ will we gain the riches of Jesus!


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