Summary: How poverty can be good
Intro: How much do you have to have to be a success in our society? With the changes in our economy, it seems that the bar is really being raised. It used to be that if you were a millionaire, you had achieved success. The truth is, that millionaires are really quite common in our society today. In fact, if you look around town, you will see some homes worth almost that much. So, what is it in our day? A hundred million? A billion? We all wish we had the billions of a Bill Gates.
Yet, this morning I would like to remind us, myself included, that success is not measured in dollars and cents. READ “One Solitary Life” - Hymnal #566
Sometimes poverty can be successful.
Years ago there was one man who committed himself to poverty and a lifestyle of helping others. His name was St. Francis of Assisi, and he is remembered and followed by many.
Last year a woman with a heart for the needy of Calcutta died: Mother Theresa. Protestants and Catholics alike stood up and applauded her for her selfless sacrifice to minister to the needs of others.
This morning, I want to start a series looking at “failures” in the eyes of the world who are really “successes” in the eyes of God. This morning we will start by considering poverty.
We really don’t understand poverty in our society. Yes, there are poor people: they are the ones who drive the cars that we trade in and who have to settle for above-ground swimming pools. But this is far from the idea of poverty.
#Once, in an elite private school, a teacher asked her class to write a composition on the subject of poverty. One little girl started out, “Once there was a poor little girl. Her father was poor, her mother was poor, her governess was poor, her chauffeur was poor, her butler was poor. In fact, everyone in the house was very, very poor.”
In our society, even the destitute do well. It is not that way in other countries. Today, in other countries, people die for lack of food, care, and medical attention.
Now, there are many reasons for poverty.
I. What are the reasons for being poor?
There are good reasons and bad reasons for being poor. Let’s consider them:
Some people don’t wish to work. Therefore they don’t have much money. Of course our government tries to overcome the consequences of not working by giving part of our income to those who don’t work.
Some people lack opportunities to provide for themselves and their families
Some love sleep - Prov. 20:13 - Do not love sleep or you will grow poor; stay awake and you will have food to spare.
Some make hasty, foolish plans - Prov. 21:5 - The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.
Some chase after foolish fantasies - Prov. 28:19 - He who works his land will have abundant food, but the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty.
Some love to talk but not work, some have no discipline, some are greedy, some spend foolishly, some hold back from giving to God
Some are poor because they are generous!
This morning, I would offer you a successful person: The one who is poor for the right reason is very successful in the eyes of God.
Often the most generous people are those who are poor. Now, you might say, yes, it’s a lot easier to give a tithe if it’s $1 than if it’s $100. Yet, just the opposite is true. If you only have $10 to live on, that $1 in the offering plate is a far greater sacrifice than the man who gives $100 and keeps $900 to live on. Yet, often we find that those who have little truly value the things that are important.
#Ronda took a short missions trip to Poland and Romania. People would fix them meals; Ronda and others in group knew people gave all the meat they had to eat for the whole week to them.
#I remember once a needy person I knew was given a gift to help them in their time of need, but they gave that gift away to someone they knew who was needier than they were. Do we have that same generous spirit?
Luke 21:1-4 - As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. "I tell you the truth," he said, "this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."