Faith and Family

Jones: Seeing our spiritual poverty

By Lynn Jones

It’s been said that being poor is not a sin, but that’s about the only good thing there is about it. While no one enjoys being poor, I have noticed that a lot of people enjoy talking about how poor they used to be, and they tend to exaggerate.

Lee Trevino was reared in a large family under very poor conditions. He said that they were so poor that when his mother tossed the dog a bone, the dog had to call for a “fair catch” or the kids would get the bone.

Another man said that when he was growing up, his family was so poor that they could afford to buy only one pair of new shoes for the start of school. He and his brother split the pair. His brother wore the left shoe; he wore the right shoe, and they both hopped to school.

Of course, when you’re poor, there isn’t much food to eat. One man said that his family was so poor that the children had to eat cereal with a fork so they could pass the milk on to the next child. 

Jerry Clower said that when he was growing up they had to eat what they could grow in the garden. In fact, he ate so much boiled okra that he couldn’t keep his socks up.

You get the idea. As folks look back, they tend to exaggerate their poverty a bit. 

The fact of the matter is that physical poverty is a tough burden to bear. The Bible consistently admonishes us to be compassionate toward the poor and to reach out to them in love and ministry.

Not having many material goods does not make a person more spiritual. On the other hand, one of the things that marks members of the kingdom of God is a recognition of their spiritual poverty. Jesus emphasized that at the beginning of His Sermon on the Mount as He listed characteristics of members of the kingdom. The first of those characteristics is, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3).

The first step into the kingdom is a step down. It is to look upon ourselves and see how spiritually poverty-stricken we are. We have nothing to commend ourselves to God. Instead of coming to God bragging about our goodness, we come to Him with deep humility.

To have this attitude is to have the attitude of Christ. Jesus said, “Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart (Matt. 11:28-29). The first thing we need to see clearly as we come to Him is our spiritual poverty and our great need for His riches in our lives. 

Lynn Jones is a retired pastor who lives in Oxford. He does supply preaching for churches in his area and often serves as an interim pastor. Jones is also an author, has written two books and writes a weekly newspaper column. He may be contacted at:  

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