D251 - Christians are blessed even with little money (What is blessedness?)
There are some Christian circles which suggest that as children of the Most High, and the seeds of Abraham, we are destined for prosperity, just like Abraham, our forefather. For Abraham was indeed ‘very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold’ (Gen 13:2). We have, as have been told and reminded, been given the wonderful keys of blessings as children of Abraham …
Who complains about being rich? It is sold to us everyday on television, at our malls, and sometimes even in our churches. A Chinese man was asked what was money to him? His reply was simply, ‘A little bit more is better than a little bit less.’ With money, one can buy things that one desires. Money can get you a comfortable life and even buy you friends. Money is a great motivator in our capitalistic societies. Prov 14:20 says pragmatically,
‘The poor is disliked even by his neighbor, but the rich has many friends.’
Nonetheless, in Prov 30:8-9, the writer said,
‘Give me neither poverty nor riches, feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.’
Who did Jesus proclaim the Good News to?
‘The good news is proclaimed to the poor.’ (Matt 11:5).
What does the Bible say about poor Christians?
Jesus made it doubly clear when he was being blessed with perfume poured on him by a woman while he was in the house of Simon the leper. He said it matter-of-factly,
‘You always have the poor with you’ (Matt 26:11).
In Luke 16:20, Jesus spoke about a poor beggar named Lazarus who was covered with sores. But when he died, he ended up in heaven. The rich man, whom Lazarus was begging food from, went to hell instead.
How can Lazarus be considered ‘blessed’ in our current Christian worldview?
In Acts 6:1, the disciples were responsible for the daily distribution of food among the Hellenistic (Greek speaking) Jewish widows. Obviously, these widows were poor. Again, in Rom 15:26, contribution was taken from foreign Christians to give to the poor Christians in Jerusalem. The argument might be that they were poor before they became Christians. Nonetheless, this statement is disingenuous.
James 2:5-6 reminded us
‘Has not God chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom He promised those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you and drag you into court?’
Why do some proclaim that Christians cannot remain poor?
Arguments have been made that Christians cannot remain poor because we are blessed and we are ‘the head and not the tail, you shall be above only, and not be beneath’ (Deut 28:13).
‘If you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the Lord your God, …… he will give the rain for your land in its season …..’
The list then goes on to cover even an extended territory of the nation. In Deut 28:15 onward, it pronounced the pains of curses, including the fact that ‘the fruit of your womb will be cursed’ (Deut 28:18), in addition to plague (Deut 28:21) as well as a lack of rain (Deut 28:24).
Nonetheless, Deut 15:11 made it abundantly clear that
“there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore, I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy, and to the poor, in your land.’”
But Deut 11 and Deut 28 seem to represent national blessings/ curses to Israel and do not apply at a personal level. The blessings pronounced on Israel are probably still applicable but we do not think that it belongs to the individual. We belong to the New Covenant and not the Mosaic Covenant.
What is blessedness and is it equated with wealth, a standard held high by the world and even by many true believers?
The word, ‘blessed’, in www,dictionary.com, spells it out as being consecrated/ sacred/ holy/ sanctified/ divinely or supremely favored. The Greek word is makarios. It describes that
a believer is in a SPECIAL position to receive God’s favor and provision as an extension of his grace.
The word also means happy/ blessed/ to be envied. It says we have been favored to be his, indeed a position of envy.
Even the secular dictionary realizes that the word ‘blessed’ DOES NOT equate to wealth or health; rather that we are in a special place, one that is supremely favored by God.
What can we learn from the apostles about blessedness?
When Jesus showed up and displayed his miracle in multiplying Peter’s fishing catch, Peter did not turn around and suggested to Jesus to go into a business partnership.
Instead, Peter acknowledged his own state and fell at the feet of Jesus, ‘Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man’ (Luke 5:8); Peter did not seek for wealth but a relationship with the Messiah, the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords.
At the end of it all, none of the disciples ever acquired wealth and all of them gave the best part of their lives to win souls for Jesus, eleven of whom died a martyr death.
Were they blessed?
Who could forget Jesus who chose the poverty of earth to the splendor of heaven in order to make known the message of the Father to all of us?
What can we learn from Jesus about blessedness?
Jesus could have arrived as a King in order to get noticed and many wanted to make him King but he took on the lowly life of a ‘servant’. John 6:15 says,
‘Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
So, what exactly is blessedness?
In Luke 10:1-20, Luke related the story of Jesus sending out seventy-two of his disciples to perform miracles across the land. They had just returned and were on a spiritual high because the power that they saw in Jesus were vested in them; (Luke 10:17 – ‘Even the demons are subject to us in your name!’).
Nevertheless, Jesus reminded them what was more important – that their names were written in heaven (Luke 10:20) or the Book of Life – our special place.
Here are the reasons why we don’t need wealth to be blessed because we are already blessed – divinely and supremely favored.
- We are blessed because we are his sheep that hear his voice (John 10:27) and our names are in the Book of Life. Our spiritual blessings far outweigh our earthly blessings.
- We are blessed because we are redeemed and forgiven, receiving the riches of his grace,
- We are blessed because we have a guaranteed inheritance,
- We are blessed because our righteousness is based on faith, for ‘Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes’ (Rom 10:4).
In addition, blessedness is a state and not a feeling. If believers do not realize the state of our blessedness in Christ, we may end up being disillusioned if we lose our wealth (or our health), or worse, if we lose both. We will become bitter and forget the reason for our being.
Job lost everything – his wealth and his health. Yet, he was one such person who could look at adversity in its face and declared,
‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord’ (Job 1:21).
His faith remained in God alone.
It is important to emphasize, lest we are taught wrongly, that there will always be poor Christians on earth. In other words, Christians are not immune to poverty and Christians do not depend on our wealth to announce our faith and proclaim our blessings.
Poverty is also not a sign of God’s punishment although it could be one way for God to get our attention.
What should rich Christians do with their wealth?
Christians are expected to do our part in helping our fellow brothers and sisters.
Mark 14:7 says, ‘You can help them any time you want.’
In fact, rich people are asked to be generous to the poor (Deut 15:7-10).
There will always be poor Christians among us. Of course, we are not saying that Christians ought to enjoy being poor too. But we are ultimately blessed regardless of our condition of the moment because blessedness is a state.
Prov 14:31 says – ‘Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his maker but he who is generous to the needy honors him.’
See also D190 – Our father wants to bless us with good things. See the story of Sarah Walton here.
D252 - Wealthy Christians must use their wealth (gift) to do good works
Just like there were poor Christians then, there were also wealthy ones.
1 Tim 6:18 commanded those who are rich to
‘Do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, and ready to share.’
Jesus’ counsel to rich believers was to
‘make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails (wealth will fail ultimately because we must all die), they may receive you into the eternal dwellings’ (Luke 16:9).
Use our wealth to win others to the Lord.
There are many poor and disadvantaged people across the world.
Jesus chose to move among the outcasts of his world, making friends with the poor, the unclean (lepers), the tax collectors, as well as the Samaritans (enemies of the Jews).
Question: How could wealthy Christians, for example, help to reach these people for Jesus?
Consider the following:
- Child laborers in Bangladesh. See HERE.
- Migrant workers in Japan. See HERE.
- Trafficked sex workers in Italy. See HERE.
What do rich people use their wealth for?
How is manure useful? A pile of manure will no doubt stinks to high heavens but if it is spread around for good, many trees can benefit from it. Wealth is to be used to do good works with those in need,
‘especially to those who are of the household of faith (fellow-believers)’ (Gal 6:10), and to win souls.
Wealthy Christians must use of their gifts in making money to do good and win souls for the kingdom of God. Souls will represent our true treasures in heaven,
‘where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and still’ (Matt 6:20).
Let us reach out to fulfill the second commandment given by our Lord Jesus –
‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ (Mark 12:31).
Please see B345 – Accumulate heavenly treasures rather than earthly ones.