Poverty is not something Christians want to talk about and if we do we make sure to highlight everything we are doing for the community and how we sponsor children in need without asking for anything in return. The reason we find it so difficult to talk about poverty is that we have a skewed image of what it really is. We commonly think of those in poverty as people who are lazy, have had bad luck, or have made bad decisions that have led them to this point in their lives. The real definition of poverty refers to lacking enough resources to provide the necessities of life. This brings up the question, what are the necessities of life? To name a few off the top of my head, I would include;
Income to support oneself
But what if I told you that most people overlook the most crucial necessities of life, which is spiritual well-being and a relationship with God. Some may argue that that is not a necessity in our life, but I would have to argue otherwise. As humans we have a God-shaped hole in our lives and although many things can fit that hole only one thing is the perfect fit. When we attempt to place other things in that shape we can get by and might even find some happiness but that will never surmount the kind of joy and happiness that come from filling the hold with God.
When we neglect to fill that hole with God we lack spiritual well-being and find ourselves in a state of spiritual poverty. Unlike physical poverty, a person who has spiritual poverty can have a nice home, cars, a great job, and a huge savings account. They seem to have it all from the appearance of things but internally their heart is deeply impoverished. This kind of poverty is not something that can be helped with a few monthly payments of whatever you can give. This kind of poverty can only be helped by a deeper investigation into what keeps our hearts distant from God. As I have mentioned in many posts before there are a lot of things that can keep our hearts distant from God.
Spiritual poverty looks a lot like the rich young man found in Mark 10:21-25.
“And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’ Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’ And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, ‘Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.’”
In this story, we are introduced to a man who claims to be a follower of Jesus, but when Jesus tells him he must give up his riches the man leaves feeling sorrowful. His unwillingness to give up his wealth shows just how impoverished his soul was. He was willing to follow the commandments and devote himself to God but not to give up his money. Because of his attitude towards his wealth Jesus says that it would be hard for him to enter the Kingdom of God. Jesus didn’t say the man could not enter the gates because he was rich. He said that because of his love for money his heart was far from God and it would be difficult for him to enter the gates. 1 Timothy 6:10 says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
It is important to note that money and God don’t go together. Matthew 6:24 says it in this way, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” The need and want for more money and more thing leads away from God's intent for our lives. It is one of the leading causes of spiritual poverty. The pursuit of worldly treasures will take you down a rabbit hole that only makes you want more.
The same is true of the pursuit of spiritual treasures but that journey will bring you closer to God and His image of what He created you to be in eternity. The journey closer to God open up doors and windows that you didn’t even though existed. To get there we must take inventory of where we are and reflect on our spiritual poverty. Find the parts of our faith that don’t measure up to the standards of the Lord. This will not be an easy journey but it will bring you the fulfillment that worldly things cannot provide.
I challenge you to take a look at your earthly treasures and determine what effect they have on your eternity. I am not telling you that you should sell all you have and move overseas to become a missionary but take the time to think about the importance you place on the things of this world in comparison to the things of heaven. Less is more when it comes to the Kingdom of God. I also challenge you to take a look at the importance you place on God in your life, is there room for improvement?
For me, I am starting here…
With the hope of ending here…