6. Poverty

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"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven."—Matt. 5:33Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3)
Some think if they can fill their bags with gold, then they are rich; but they who are poor in spirit are the rich men; this poverty entitles them to a kingdom. How poor are they that think themselves rich! How rich are they that see themselves poor. There are some paradoxes in religion that the world cannot understand; for a man to become a fool that he may be wise (1 Cor. 3:1818Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. (1 Corinthians 3:18)), to save his life by losing it (Matt. 16:2525For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. (Matthew 16:25)), and being poor to be rich, reason laughs at; but "blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom"; under these rags is hid cloth of gold.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit." This poverty is your riches; you may have the world's riches, and yet be poor; you cannot have this poverty, but you must be rich; poverty of spirit entitles you to Christ's riches.
Blessedness doth not lie in the acquisition of worldly things. Christ doth not say, Blessed are the rich, or blessed are the noble; yet too many idolize these things: Man by the fall hath not only lost his crown, but his head-piece. The tree of blessedness doth not grow in an earthly paradise. Hath not God cursed the ground for sin? Yet many are digging for felicity here, as if they would fetch a blessing out of a curse.
That which cannot quiet the heart in a storm, cannot entitle a man to blessedness; earthly things accumulated, cannot rock the troubled heart quiet, therefore cannot make one blessed. When Saul was sore distressed, could all the jewels of his crown comfort him? "They shall cast their silver in the streets... their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the LORD" (Ezek. 7:1919They shall cast their silver in the streets, and their gold shall be removed: their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the Lord: they shall not satisfy their souls, neither fill their bowels: because it is the stumblingblock of their iniquity. (Ezekiel 7:19)).
That which is but for a season cannot make one blessed; all things under the sun are but for a season. "The world passeth away" (1 John 2:1717And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. (1 John 2:17)). Riches and honor are fugitive: while they are with us they are going away from us, like ice, which melts away while it is in your hand.
Things which do more vex than comfort, cannot make a man blessed; but such are all things under the sun. As riches are compared to "wind" to show their vanity (Hos. 12:11Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind: he daily increaseth lies and desolation; and they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt. (Hosea 12:1)), so to "thorns", to show their vexation (Matt. 13:2222He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. (Matthew 13:22)). Thorns are not more apt to tear our garments, than riches are to tear our hearts; they are thorns in the gathering, they prick with care; and as they pierce the hand with care of getting, so they wound the heart with fear of losing.
Those things which (if we have nothing else) will make us cursed, cannot make us blessed. "They that will be rich fall into temptation, and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition" (1 Tim. 6:99But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. (1 Timothy 6:9)). How many have pulled down their souls to build up an estate! A ship may be so laden with gold that it sinks; many a man's gold hath sunk him to hell. The rich sinner seals up money in his bag, and God seals up a curse with it. "Woe to him... that ladeth himself with thick clay" (Hab. 2:66Shall not all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting proverb against him, and say, Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his! how long? and to him that ladeth himself with thick clay! (Habakkuk 2:6)).
To such as are cut short in their allowance, whose cup doth not overflow, but their tears; be not too much troubled; remember these outward comforts cannot make you blessed; you might live rich and die cursed; you might treasure up an estate, and God might treasure up wrath; be not perplexed about these things; the want whereof cannot make you miserable, nor the enjoyment make you blessed.
Earthly riches, saith Austin, are full of poverty. They cannot enrich the soul; oftentimes under silken apparel, there is a threadbare soul.
The common mercies wicked men have, are not load-stones to draw them nearer to God, but millstones to sink them deeper in hell (1 Tim. 6:99But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. (1 Timothy 6:9)). Their delicious dainties are like Haman's banquet; after all their lordly fare, death will bring in the reckoning, and they must pay it in hell.
You never knew a man surfeit himself upon the world, and sick of love to Christ; while Israel fed with delight upon garlic and onions, they never hungered after manna. The love of earthly things will quench the desire of spiritual. "Love not the world" (1 John 2:1515Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15)); the sin is not in the having but the loving.
Godly and earthly is a contradiction. "For many walk, of whom I now tell you, even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ, whose god is their belly, who mind earthly things" (Phil. 3:18-1918(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) (Philippians 3:18‑19)). We read the earth swallowed up Korah alive (Num. 16:3232And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods. (Numbers 16:32)). This judgment is on many, the earth swallows up their time, and thoughts, and discourse, they are buried twice; their hearts are buried in the earth before their bodies.
God allows us the use of the world (1 Tim. 6:77For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. (1 Timothy 6:7)), but take heed of the love of it; he that is in love with the world will be out of love with the cross. "Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world" (2 Tim. 4:1010For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. (2 Timothy 4:10)). Before a man can die for Christ he must be dead to the world. It will be an easy thing to die, when we are dead before in our affections.
How soon we are broken upon the soft pillow of ease! Adam in paradise was overcome, when Job on the dunghill was a conqueror.
"I cannot be poor," saith Bernard, "as long as God is rich, for His riches are mine." 'Whatever we lose for God, we shall find again in Him. "We have left all," say the disciples, "and have followed Thee" (Mark 10:2828Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. (Mark 10:28)). Alas! what had they left? A few sorry boats and tackling! They parted with movable goods for the unchangeable God. All losses are made up in Him: we may be losers for God, we shall not be losers by Him.
Christ, who had all riches, scorned earthly riches; He was born poor, the manger was His cradle, the cobwebs His curtains: He lived poor, He had not where to lay His head: He died poor, He had no crown-lands, only His coat was left, and that the soldiers parted among them: and His funeral was suitable, for as He was born in another man's house, so He was buried in another man's tomb.
"For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor" (2 Cor. 8:99For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)). He could have brought down a house from heaven with Him, or have challenged the high places of the earth; but He was contented to live poor that we might die rich: the manger was His cradle. He, who is now preparing mansions for us in heaven, had none for Himself on earth; He had not where to lay His head.
He was poor, that He might make us rich. He was born of a virgin, that we might be born of God. He took our flesh, that might give us His Spirit. He lay in the manger that we might lie in paradise. He came down from heaven that He might bring us to heaven.