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Topic: Poor (10/25/04)
TITLE: Spiritual, Not Material Deprivation Is What Makes A Believer “Poor”
By Doug Laird
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Human viewpoint would define a poor person as one lacking material possessions or the monetary means of support. Godly viewpoint says that a person may have an abundance of material possessions, be in good health, and be socially secure, “...But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” (Rev.3: 17 NIV).
Ask the average “successful” man about the current market value of his possessions, his retirement plan, insurance coverage, projected income, savings or other investments, and he will likely be able to recall & cite the balance of such accounts like someone would be able to recite his phone number.
Ask the same man about his EBA (eternal bank account) & he would likely look at you with consternation, but only because he suspects that he may be missing out on latest investment opportunity. If he senses the spiritual nature of your question, he may respond despairingly by quoting 1Timothy 6:7 (NIV), “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” as he ponders the inevitability of his earthly departure.
The Bible speaks of earthly wealth growing wings and flying away (Proverbs 23:5).
The Bible gives solid advice as in what and where one’s investments are most secure. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matt.6: 19, 20 NIV). Where, how, and in what we invest our time, talents, and finances reveal the priorities of our hearts (Matthew 6:21).
The receiving of rewards or a ”good return” is never to be the motivation for our investments in the spiritual realm, but the fact that we are to be rewarded for divine good produced under the filling of the Holy Spirit is dogmatically stated in Scripture (1Cor. 3:14).
Sociologists will confirm that the socio-economic class into which one is born will be (in most cases) the same socio-economic class in which that same person will die. Sometimes a person may move from one level to another level of the same socio-economic class, such as from the lower middle class to the upper middle class, but rarely does a person move from one socio-economic class to another for a variety of reasons. This does not seem to offer much hope for those the world considers to be poor.
In the spiritual realm, however this is not the case. There are no barriers or ceilings in the spiritual economy. A person, regardless of his/her personal environment has equal opportunity to become spiritually rich both in this life and in the life to come. With this type of wealth, one can possess what all the money in the world can never provide. Every born again believer has an eternal bank account with his/her name on it and the equal opportunity to make deposits on a daily basis.
For all of Eternity, certain aspects of Heaven will be commonly shared and experienced by all believers. But as a result of the receiving or loss of eternal rewards as clearly revealed in 1Cor. 3: 12-15, Heaven will not be a place of total experiential equality. There will be believers who are relatively richer than others as a result of receiving rewards and the corresponding privileges for the production of divine good. Others will be relatively poorer as a result of losing rewards & privileges for having failed to identify and/or pursue the true post-salvation spiritual life.
The challenge for believers is to acknowledge that while there is nothing wrong with making the best of our opportunities of this life, it will all be for naught if we become richer on Earth only to find ourselves poorer in Heaven.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (R) Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All Rights reserved.