Blessed to be Poor
I recently found myself in a hospital for a few days after being so sick I couldn’t eat anything for three days. After I got out, I gave myself time to recuperate and heal. However, I was lending the ministry pickup truck and trailer to a friend and it had the wrong hitch ball on it. So, I did what I always do – I went to the shed and got a huge wrench so I could remove it and replace it with the smaller one I needed on there.
Well, I couldn’t remove it. I had absolutely NO strength. Nothing I did helped. No matter how I braced myself in the gravel of our driveway, that thing would not budge.
Now, I have never been a muscleman or anything like that; however, I have always had upper body strength. Not this day. I was as weak as a baby and I did NOT enjoy it. I was SO frustrated. I had to call a friend to come do it for me while I watched.
As a man, that was agonizing to experience.
This morning, as I was working on my James Bible study and I came across something in Chapter Two that revealed to me that in my weakness I had wasted a chance to harvest something good from the Lord.
“Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not 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 2:5)
This is the third time in this letter that James reminds his recipients of how loved they are and that they are his fellow siblings in Christ by using the term “beloved brethren”. Every time he does this he is saying, “my equals”.
I would imagine if I had felt the need to flee because my Jewish relatives and other Jews persecuted me for being a Christian I wouldn’t feel very valuable. This simple phrase addresses that. James also knows most of these people who get this letter will be living humble lives, at the mercy of whatever economy in which they find themselves.
It’s easy to become poor in this hard world. All it can take is a simple economic glitch or political winds or the beliefs of others changing directions (think “cancel culture” here).
So, James reminds them of what a blessing it can be to be poor.
(As an aside, have you ever noticed how differently from us our God views things at times? We NEVER instinctively see being poor as a good thing.)
James knows that Jesus Himself addressed this topic:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)
The Apostle Paul addressed it as well:
“For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)
Why did God choose the poor? Paul tells us why: “(so) that no flesh should glory in His presence”.
Sometime in our life on the earth we all will find ourselves poor in some manner. Maybe we will be physically ill or weak. Maybe we will be short of money. Perhaps it will be in other ways. It would be good, in those times, to remember what James and Paul are telling us here.
Whatever causes us to experience being poor in some way, it is an opportunity from God to depend on Him and Him alone and draw on HIS strength. It is also a time to think, “God CHOSE me for this.” It is a VERY special thing to be handpicked by God to do something.
I’ll confess that truth escaped me as I sat sweating in my driveway, frustrated at my weakness, poor in physical strength and stamina.
I didn’t praise God for my weakness. I missed a chance to bask in the joy of having been chosen by God to be weak and enjoy the humility of having to tell a fellow man, “I’m too weak to do it.”
Instead of enjoying humility, I felt humiliated. Frustrated. ANGRY. Defeated.
As I worked on my study this morning, I realized that all that happened inside my own head. It had to do with how I managed in my soul what was happening in my physical world.
All I had to do was pray and ask the Lord what He thought and He would have probably reminded me that Holy Spirit had the Apostle Paul write this about his own “poverty”:
“Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)
That evening in my driveway I missed a chance to praise God for my weakness. This morning I felt the regret in realizing that.
What do you do when you realizing something like this? I prayed what I sometimes call a “next time prayer”.
“Father God, next time please remind me to praise You for my weakness.”
I guarantee you, there WILL be a next time. So. I’ll have opportunity to practice this.
There is something about discovering or being reminded of our weakness which appeals to our flesh. It causes us to focus on the physical aspect of our lives…things you can count or quantify in some way. We can’t focus on two things at once, so when we do this, our ability to draw on the eternal, spiritual component of our lives as Christians will suffer.
But, we can recover and reset. We can see it happening in Paul’s mind in the things he wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10. He was fixated on his weakness, he begged God to take it away in the natural, and then he approached it from the spiritual, drawing on the strength of the Lord which FAR exceeds our human weaknesses.
That’s why this morning, I prayed my “next time” prayer. I hope to approach the next reminder of some way in which it is evident I am poor by allowing the Lord to draw me closer to HIS riches in Christ.
I’m blessed to be poor.
I hope this lesson I learned today will benefit you in some way my beloved brethren.
Pastor Mike McInerney
Mike McInerney Ministries, Inc.
© April 17, 2022
(for use with permission)