We often hear the term, “The Less Fortunate” and are encouraged to help them in various ways, most often by doing for them what they cannot or will not do for themselves, which rarely has any lasting effect. Charities have all-too-often become an enterprise in and of themselves, perpetuating the needs of “The Less Fortunate”.
What is being “Less Fortunate” or poor? Poor, to one person, can be all together another thing to yet another person. Being poor is relative, it is nothing more than a set state of mind.
For example, if you cannot pay your bills, buy food or shelter and cannot afford medical care, you are poor, indeed. And, if you are of that lowly state, anyone who could afford just the basics of the aforementioned needs of life, would appear to have a life of sufficiency. And, for those who have any excess of these necessities would likely be considered well off. We can go on up the social and financial strata until we cannot even relate to the great wealth some possess. But, even with the mega-wealthy, a mental poverty can exist – always wanting or needing more. It is all relative.
THERE IS A TEACHING BY JESUS WHICH HAS THE POTENTIAL AND THE POWER TO PERMANENTLY CHANGE YOUR LIFE, lift you from the most dire, humble and meek of circumstances and to place you under the protection and within the plentiful and abundant provisions God has prepared for you.
This teaching is neither hidden nor is it new. It is as old as Moses, when he told the Israelites, “You may achieve success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will achieve success.
Jesus is teaching about ‘spiritual and soul poverty’ which afflicts the soul, mind and body. This poverty is not only the lack of financial means, but it is to be destitute of the wealth of learning and intellectual culture which the schools afford; and people of this class most readily gave themselves up to Christ’s teaching and proved themselves fitted to lay hold of the heavenly treasure.
It is not hidden from sight – it is hidden in plain sight. Read what Jesus says to the ‘Rich Your Ruler’ in Matthew 19:21:22, “If you want to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.”
After overhearing this statement by Jesus, Peter selfishly lamented, saying, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?”
“And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms on account of My name, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last; and the last, first.’
This young man sadly misunderstood what Jesus is saying, as have so many since that time. Jesus is teaching about changing your perspective, your attitude and taking your focus off the temporal to the eternal. As Jesus taught again, in Matthew 6:19-20, you are to take your mind off of “what the moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal, and store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal”.
Put another way, “we look not at the things which are seen, but our focus should be on the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18.
Also in Hebrews 11:3, “By faith we understand that the world has been created by the word of God so that what is seen has not been made out of things that are visible.”
Now, in regard to ‘The Poor’, Jesus begins this teaching with,
“For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me.” Matthew 26:11.
The broader context of this event is about how our attitudes and beliefs are expressed by our actions. We are defined as “poor”, whether it is a good sense or a bad sense, by how we express the deepest held core beliefs of our heart.
You find the entire context of this teaching in Matthew 26:1-13, “When Jesus had finished all these words, He said to His disciples, verse 2, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion.”
Verse 3. At that time the chief priests and the elders of the people were gathered together in the courtyard of the high priest named Caiaphas; verse 4, and they plotted together to arrest Jesus covertly and kill Him. Verse 5. But they were saying, “Not during the festival, otherwise a riot might occur among the people.”
Verse 6-13. “Now when Jesus was in Bethany, at the home of Simon the Leper, verse a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very expensive perfume, and she poured it on His head as He was reclining at the table. But the disciples were indignant when they saw this, and said, “Why this waste ? For this perfume could have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you bothering the woman? For she has done a good deed for Me. For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me. For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told in memory of her.”
Poor: from the Greek word, ptóchos means to be beggarly-poor; to be thoroughly frightened, to cower down or hide oneself for fear; hence, one who slinks and crouches, often involving the idea of roving about in wretchedness; as respects their spirit, it is to be destitute of the wealth of learning and intellectual culture which the schools afford; men of this class most readily gave themselves up to Christ’s teaching and proved themselves fitted to lay hold of the heavenly treasure.
Usage of this word, poor (ptóchos), is to be destitute, spiritually poor, either in a bad sense or a good sense.
See Matthew 5:3 “Blessed are the poor, (ptóchos), in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
See Matthew 4:2, “And after He had fasted for forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.” This word, ‘hungry’, comes from the primary Greek word, “peno”, (to toil for daily subsistence); starving. Indigent, poor. Compared to ptochos, feeling the intense pinch of extreme lack.
Here, Jesus is setting the example for us, of how we are to overcome this life through extreme testing and trials as we are led by the Holy Spirit.
Peter teaches and encourages us, “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which perishes though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;” 1 Peter 1:6-7
I want to unequivocally state that no one needs to continue to be “Less Fortunate”. Although others may attempt to cast you into that light or to inadvertently lure you to stay in the trap of the “Less Fortunate” by hampering your progress through unnecessary charity, you do not need to remain there. Those who are sufficient, often inadvertently lure you to stay in the trap of the “Less Fortunate” by providing what God has already set aside for your health, wealth and wholeness, so that you will be made whole, healthy and safe.
And, you do not need to worry or strive for riches in your journey. The Apostle Paul reminds us, “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever abandon you.”
Jesus, Himself, said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is life not more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the sky, that they do not sow, nor reap, nor gather crops into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more important than they? And which of you by worrying can add a single day to his life’s span? And why are you worried about clothing? Notice how the lilies of the field grow; they do not labor nor do they spin thread for cloth, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided to you.”Matthew 6:24-33.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; Seek, and you will find; Knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-11
Please let me repeat, no one needs to continue to be “Less Fortunate”. The Bible teaches and show a multitude of examples where Jesus heals the sick, restores the infirm and enables the weak. God has already set aside for your health, wealth and wholeness, so that you will be made whole, healthy and safe.
(I know this is a difficult teaching for those who are caught in the snare of poverty, sickness and need. But if you will begin today – right now – to follow Jesus, and over time and with much difficulty, you will find relief and your rest.)
Your Brother and Friend,