The poor in spirit are blessed. There are different levels of material poverty. Why some are moderately Poor, others are wretchedly poor.
whether one is fairly poor or miserably poor,one thing is sure ;poverty is not usually a comfortable state.
The poor in our society are never associated with blessings; therefore,many people are happy to do various things,both good and evils,in other to get out of poverty.
Many prosperity preachers are often quick to proclaim that poverty is a curse. Not many people are willing to associate with those who
are poor and downtrodden in the society ,but many people are very happy to associate themselves with those who are rich and powerful ,even when it is clear that their ways are full of evil deeds.
There are people who suffer material poverty because they cannot afford their basic needs; they neither have good food nor good shelter.
In some cases, some people are poor because of the constraint inherent in our oppressive
and exploitative social structures, where the hard work of many people are not adequately rewarded by many of the social institutions that benefits from their services.
A critical investigations into the root causes of most material poverty could reveal that poverty is a criminal invention of humankind through greed, selfishness and wickedness.
This is because in the original state, at creation, God blessed the earth with sufficient resources to sustain her population .
God-blessed humankind and order it to be fruitful and increase its number .if a link is carefully and critically established between human greed ,wickedness and material poverty.
Then one May rightfully claim that material poverty today is not necessarily a product of increased human population in the world as some people may claim.
It is rather more of a reflection of the consequences of human disobedience to God, which greed and exploitation are some of its manifestations.
Though God cursed the Earth, yet he planned that humankind working in obedience to his precept will be comfortable, through the level of his hands, which God promised to bless.
Let us consider a country like Nigeria. when you say that most of her citizens are in abjects material poverty, it should sounds strange and unbelievable .
God has blessed it with crude oil and gas deposits. It has good soil for agriculture in most parts of the country, soil which
produces not only food crops to suspend the nation but also cash crops that can be exported to other countries.
Further God bless Nigeria with many other mineral deposits apart from crude oil. these are provided by God for those who will be destined to live in this country, God divinely planned it.
But one wonders why people who live in such a big country where there is abundance of God’s blessings, are very poor.
The reasons are obvious. Greed,wickedness selfishness, exploitation, oppressive regimes, squader – mania etc are both the remotes and immediate causes of poverty in Nigeria.
What I consider as a positive concept of material poverty is what I call poverty in solidarity.
This poverty can be used to challenge the impact of material poverty, which is caused by man’s inhumanity to this follows.
This is a kind of poverty where individuals or groups of people living in a community are concerned about the suffering of people who
have been made to live in abject poverty through various forms of oppression or disaster .
There are people who are poor today not because it is their choice, but because the society has deprived their parents the
resources which they should have used to train such people and give them a good start in life so that they will have equal opportunities with their follows.
Poverty in solidarity involves identifying with others and sharing their burden. Such sharing
could involve the redistribution of wealth so that the basic necessities of life are provided for those who are living in abject poverty.
It could also involve training and providing a good environment that would encourage the future flourishing of those children who have been born into abject poverty.
In poverty in solidarity, individuals or groups of people willingly sacrifice some of their pleasure in order to Foster the well-being of others.
For example, those who would have loved to build several houses can build few in order to redistribute some of the wealth they have at accrued from the well-being of those who do not even have a shelter .
At different times, some people have manifested great heroic acts by identifying with those who are poor.
Some will their life and go to distant places to help others and to alleviate their suffering.
This activity is often motivated by the missionary Spirit . some have devoted themselves to care for others not for gain but to relieve the sick and the poor.
Some will their wealth to alleviate the sufferings of others. Poverty in solidarity will help us to appreciate some sacrifices made
by the early missionaries who gave up the comfort of their families and countries to
suffer in the hinterland under the excruciating c conditions just to bring the riches of Christ Jesus to such people.
A glaring example of a missionary who stood a solidarity with the Poor was Francis of Assisi.
He was the son of a wealthy Italian cloth merchant, a popular youth who led a carefree life and destined to be a knight until his conversion through illness.
He had a peculiar vision and understanding of the words of Jesus in Matthew 10 verse 7 to 10. He interpreted the gospel to mean that goods should be freely given to the poor.
Living home in a ragged cloak and a rope belt taken from a scarecrow, he wandered the
countryside with a few followers begging from the rich,and giving to the poor and preaching.
His charm humility and kindly manner many followers.
Francis did not turn to nature as a refuge from the world, as many monks did ,but rather saw created things objects of love that pointed to their creator.
For this reason, he enjoyed a solitary life and it is reported that even birds and animals enjoyed his sermon.
He spent most of his time preaching the gospel while living in alter poverty among ordinary people .
Francis turned his back on accommodating worldly goods, though his family background afforded him much of them.
He rather devoted his life and goods to the services of the poor. He redistributed is
massive inheritance, which he should have maximized for his pleasure for the well-being of those who live in abject poverty.
He is revered by many Christians as one of the noblest Christ – like figures who ever lived.
Below is a prayer and meditations:
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace
where there is hatred, let me so love
where there is injury, pardon
where there is doubt, Faith
where there is despair, hope
where there is darkness, light
where there is sadness, joy
Oh divine master Grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console
not so much to be understood as to understand
not so much to be loved as to love
for it is in giving that will receive
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned
it is in dying that we are awake to eternal life
Francis safe the basement in his devotion to the poor and is comfortable in the society is both challenging and frightening.
It is challenging in the sense that someone has demonstrated a high level of disparagement for the sake of the gospel, and hence, sets a PACE for us to follow.
The instructions of Jesus to the rich young man who came to ask him what he must do to inherit the kingdom of God (Matthew 19 16 to 24), was here fulfill by someone who lived many years after his death.
Jesus had instructed the rich young man in the gospel, to sell all he owned and give the proceeds to the poor so that he will have treasure in heaven.
The man was alarmed at such a directive. He went away grieving, on willing to part with his riches and hence unable to perform this last
act that would have enabled him to enjoy everlasting bliss in God’s kingdom; even though he had kept all the other laws prescribed by the prophets.
Francis self humiliation is frightening in the sense that not a handful of people can take such pains in caring for those who are poor and debased in the society.
Why should one be discomfited in order to make another comfortable ?what is the rationale behind it?
what game is there to be made by such on wise living? if one redistributes his wealth in such a way that he becomes poor ,has he any
guarantee that those for whom he made painful sacrifices in order to change their lives will use the resources well?
will they emulate his self debasement and do the same for others in the society? The experiences of many are that many people do not remember the painful sacrifices made by many people others for their well-being.
And after others have suffered for them so that they may enjoy material riches they use the same riches to suppress those who have made painful sacrifices for them
in spite of the above dilemma ,the Bible encourages us to do good without seeking reward.
we do not necessarily need to go the extent Francis went in order to show our solidarity with the poor, but Jesus life challenges us and points out the need for us to stand in solidarity with the poor.
To stand in solidarity with the poor, oppressed, victimized and the subjugated, we must not just be sympathetic with their sufferings but to empathize with them.
Empathy is the ability to put ourselves in another person’s position. We rise up, not minding the consequences, and alleviate the suffering of others.
By such did, we honour God for whoever is kind to the needy(poor) honour God Proverbs 14 verse 31.
This is real sacrifice as it is not motivated by the anticipation of any gain or reward. It is quite different from colonialism and neocolonialism where people exploit others under the guise of helping them.
Jesus set the example. He left his throne in heaven in order to stand in solidarity with mankind to save it .
In the words of Paul ,Jesus was made poor that we might become rich :for you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ ,that
though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor ,so that by his poverty you might become rich( 2 Corinthians 8 verse 9)
Pauls word make a link between standing in solidarity with the poor and deeper understanding of Jesus paradoxical maxim that the poor are blessed .
what does Jesus really mean when he proclaimed that the poor in spirit are blessed?
The answer may lie in the virtuesof being contentedly poor, and willing to empty worldly wealth, if God orders that to be oir lot.
It is to be loosely attached to all worldly wealth and not set our heart on it . this is done, not pride or pretense to make ourselves Poor by throwing away what God has given us.
when God has blessed us with the riches of the word as he proclaimed we must be poor in Spirit by submitting all to God and being
gracious towards the poor ,sympathizing with them and being touched by the feeling of their weaknesses.
Poverty in spirit is expressed in our willingness to be poor, especially when it comes upon us for keeping a good conscience .( Hebrew 10 verse 34).
Job is a credible example of one who is poor in spirit. He blessed God in taking away all he had as God has given.
But all these were also restored in immeasurable folds by God. The poor in spirit
are those who have humble thought of themselves, being humble and lowly in our eyes and not haughty.
It is to be like little children in our own opinion of ourselves. The super apostle Paul, though rich a spiritual insight and excelling in most gift and Grace was also Poor in the spirit.
His claims was that he is the least of the apostles, less than least of descent and nothing in his own account (1 Corinthians 15 verse 8 to 10).
It is our willingness to make ourselves to be cheap and humble that we are able to do
good and become all things to my humankind in order to win them for Christ as well as help them improve their well-being.
When we are poor in spirit, we can sincerely and fully acknowledge that God is Holy while
we are sinful; that God is all while we are nothing; at that God is the ultimate, while we are insignificant.
Then we are able to shun the confidence of our own righteousness and strength so that we may depend only on the merits of Christ.
The tax collector took this kind of spirit. when he went to pray and worship God,
onlike the pharisee, he had a broken and contrite spirits and cried for mercy as a poor sinner (luk18:9 to 14).
We must know that we are poor, because we are always in need of God’s grace, begging at God’s door ,always depending on his sustenance.
Poverty in spirit is put first by our Lord Jesus among the Christian Graces The foundation of all our Grace is led in humility and those who want to build very high must begin from very low.
It is the poor in spirit that realises their weakness and boarding and therefore Cleave to God to lift them up (Matthew 11 verses 28).
The poor in spirit are blessed even while they are in this world, for God looks graciously on them.
They are blessed in things to come for the kingdom is prepared for them. The great and
high spirits expire with the glory of the kingdom of earth, but the humble minds and yielding souls obtain the glory of the kingdom of heaven.
This promise is for both the rich and the poor in this world, who become contentedly poor in
the Spirit by yielding themselves to God ,in his son Jesus Christ and abiding in him all the days of their lives.
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