Or Worse Yet...?
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"Poor"...an odd word. Poor as in "he was so poor, he had no shoes" or worse yet - "I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet"? There are so many degrees of "poor". He has no job, or worse yet, he has no desire to serve God. He has no car or worse yet - he has nowhere to go because he loves no one. He has no income, or worse yet - he has no desire to help others with his time, energies or even to feed them the Word of God. He has no one to love him, or worse yet, he rejects Jesus, the Christ Who loved him enough to die for him? He has no swimming pool, or worse yet - he has no desire for baptism in Christ. He has no home or worse yet - he has no desire for a Heavenly home. He has no peace, or worse yet - he has no desire for peace with God.
I am spearing, with my fork - right at this moment - a prune. The next thing I will put my fork to will be a tasty date. The English language is so full of oxymorons. Will I stab my date with a fork? What kind of date? Someone I had an unpleasant evening with? Lack of language skills may be very poor indeed! I am old enough to remember watching the "Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts", wherein many celebrities played "Tag! You're IT!" with Don Rickles roasting his victims over live verbal coals. Poor victims! But were the "victims" really "poor"? Most likely they were Hollywood personages beloved by their peers - residing in the Hollywood Hills, Bel Air and/or Beverly Hills! By any stretch of anyone's imaginings - they were definitely NOT poor.
Children starving - distended tummies and skinny little legs barely able to support them - walking alongside their Mothers who line up to receive charitable donations of milk and grain. Are these children poor? They have Mothers. They are receiving milk and grain. They are considered rich by those who are orphaned. They are very rich compared to those who have no one to donate sustenance to them. They are "blessed by the gods" to those who are legless because of leprosy. Poor indeed. And how shall anyone help these unfortunates? Give until you have no strength to give? Or show them how to provide for themselves? Give them a bowl of fruit or teach them how to fish and care for crops? Welfare. What is welfare? A handout to cover the concerns of the moment? Or a gift of strength to help others to grow physically and spiritually?
What happens if any of these people win "the Lottery"? Are they now to be considered "rich" as in wealthy - able to live lives of luxury rather than poverty? What happens to someone who has only known physical need and suddenly all the riches of the world are being poured into his hungry grasp? Would a check for a million dollars matter to that starving child in Africa? The check is nothing if there is nowhere nor way to cash it. It is merely a piece of paper. Someone hands him a Mercedes! Wow! But a wee child driving a Mercedes? Of what use is such largesse? Better to give that child a rock to suck on to stimulate his saliva and somewhat slake his thirst. Momentarily. The child can suck that rock all day, but there is only so much saliva.
Needs. Wants. Desires. Suffering. These are what God offers to "satisfy" through His precious gift His beloved Son and our wondrous Savior, Jesus. Prosperity preaching? Yes and no. We all have needs. We all have wants. We all have desires so strong we feel we cannot survive without having them fulfilled. And we all suffer. Some more than others. Will having "nice things" make us happier? Sure. A roof over our heads is a nice thing. Transportation to visit each other is also very nice. Food on the table? Wonderful! But cravings for "even BETTER things" soon replace our gratitude for what we have received through God's grace. Gee...a swimming pool would sure be nice. A larger house for entertaining would sure be nice. Oh! And wouldn't a Rolls Royce be sooooo nice!
Back to that little tyke with the wasted legs and the distended belly. Wouldn't even a cup of water once a day be NICE? Wouldn't eating more than once a day be NICE? Wouldn't sleeping on something softer than the dirt be NICE? Proverbs 30:5 covers it well:
5 "Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.
6 Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.
7 Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die:
8 Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:
9 Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain."
Grace - GOD'S Power!
"Of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues."