“For the poor will never cease from the land, therefore I command you saying, ‘You shall open wide to your brother. your poor and your needy in your land.” Deuteronomy 15:11
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 5:2
I can hear the groans now. “Okay, here we go, another blog or writing about money and how bad we are about it and how we should feel guilty..blah, blah, blah.” So hang in there with me for this not about money per se and its primary aspect has nothing to do with guilt. Is money a factor? Sure. But you can be rich in many different things; education, relationships, physical prowess, physical attractiveness, and yes, you can be poor in those many things as well.
So the question is; in what manner of things do I feel poor? As well as in what manner of things do I feel rich. It is my firm belief that the true measure of poor vs. rich is in the spirit. While it is very rare (remember Jesus Christ said it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter into the kingdom), a person with great wealth, can be appropriately poor and as well a person with little earthly means can act very rich, in a way that is disastrous.
I have led a life and am today materially blessed; especially as it relates to the rest of the world. Yet even within my life, I can remember times where I was in poverty; services cut off, skipping meals because I did not have the ability to purchase them, asking for help. It was during those times (as well as today) many blessings came to me. What I can remember dearly are those random acts of kindness. Where someone I knew and sometimes total strangers, did something to get me through the day. I also remember my reaction. My reaction was one of sincere, total gratitude. It was not that I deserved the help that I was given. It was that someone, out of the goodness of their heart, had seen fit to help me. Oh, how much I wanted to thank them and so much wanted to do something for them in return; not out of guilt or some sense of not wanting to owe them; just in gratitude.
I also have been successful. I have put in effort, I have done significant training and I have achieved. In those achievements I have been, in terms of this world rewarded. And therein lies the key and for me, my potential down fall. For, if I am not extremely careful, there is little gratitude, true sincere gratitude for “my rewards”, except perhaps self gratitude. Why should I be grateful to others, I worked very hard, I achieved, I sweated, I sacrificed, and therefore I am entitled to my gains! That is not blessings! That is JUST DESERTS!!!!! And that is the pathway to hell.
Is there truly an example of totally self made person? A person who had no teacher, had no mentor, never had someone give them something; advice or encouragement, who willed themselves not to get sick or designed their own muscle function, how tall they were going to be, the color of their hair and so many other things? I don’t believe so. And listen closely, very closely to people in this world who are considered rich. Compare the amount of time they spend speaking gratitude versus the amount of time they speak to their own achievements.
So now, we have just finished celebrating an Easter Season. Our Most Precious Savior, Jesus Christ has died and risen, for us; FOR ME! Do I feel rich or poor about that? In the sense that I mean it here, do I feel that I have somehow lived a life decent enough, sinned, maybe just a little, but not as much as everyone else, loved enough, sacrificed enough that I richly deserver the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for me. Or in comparison do I feel poor? Poor in the respect, that I can never live good enough, pure enough, love enough, give enough, sacrifice enough, to deserve the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ?
If I answer I am poor, then result can be, honest, sincere, total gratitude. Not a gratitude shrouded in guilt, but I gratitude overflowing in the joy of receiving, the knowledge of an all encompassing love, and a true desire to help. I can have worldly possessions and still understand that they are there not because I deserve them. I can be a person of knowledge and stature, yet be humbly meek and grateful. In my overwhelming gratitude, I will have the true desire to emulate the one who has given so much and want to do the same.
Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father, Your mercies, blessings and gifts are beyond my comprehension to understand and surely beyond a reward for my actions. Please, Dear Father, reveal to me the poor state that I am, compared the richness to be found in You. Give me a humble spirit toward myself and a grateful spirit toward you. That my mouth would be filled with Your praises and my life devoted to helping as I have truly been helped. That in this and in all things Your Most Holy Name Will Be Praised For Ever. In the name of Your Most Precious Gift to us; Jesus Christ we pray.