This month we have pondered Jesus as a secret, Jesus as emptied, and today we consider Jesus as poor.
Family members from out-of-state traveled to celebrate Thanksgiving at our home this year. They stayed in a nearby Airbnb because our home wasn’t large enough to accommodate them comfortably. The night before they left to drive home, I drove to their AirBnb to deliver some items and say final goodbyes. I was told I would travel through an apartment complex before coming to a row of town homes in which they were staying.
As I turned into the apartment complex, my heart sank.
Even in the dark, it was evident the complex was very rundown and I feared the town home my family had stayed in was also rundown. It saddened me think that my family had traveled 12 hours in the car and paid to stay in such humble accommodations.
The truth of my heart was revealed.
I am embarrassed at my emotional response to that apartment complex. Those apartments are people’s homes! have been gripped by my unsavory thoughts I had hoped my family hadn’t stayed in such a place and thought my family deserved better. Ugh.
The accommodations weren’t up to my standards.
Sadly, my response revealed that I still have the sin of partiality in my heart. James is clear such an attitude is sin.
My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?…. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?….Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law. (James 2:2-4, 8-9)
My heart believed there was a difference between visiting and residing.
Here is the truth: The rich and the poor meet together; the Lord is the maker of them all. (Proverbs 22:2) I would not hesitate to arrive in that apartment complex to participate in a ministry or giving event and then return to my home at night. But stay in that complex overnight? Sign a lease for a year? Pay rent? The stench of partiality still lurks in my heart. May God continue to rip it out.
Jesus and his family stayed in Bethlehem or the vicinity for two years until God appeared to Joseph in a dream to warn him to flee to Egypt with the child and Mary because Herod had put out a command to kill all boys until two. (Matthew 2:7-16)
What does that have to do with Jesus?
My daughter is pregnant and carefully selected the hospital, established a birth plan and selected a pediatrician for their first child. I am pleased she will be delivering the baby in a new hospital. (Lord willing, of course. Anything can happen.) In contrast, God’s #1, A+, stellar and perfect plan for the entrance of His Son into the world was a teenage girl, a birth announcement from angels to shepherds, and a manger as a crib in the company of his mother, father, and animals. God picked humble.
God picked poor.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)
Jesus succumbed to the process of human development in secret and emptied Himself to be born of a virgin. He became poor, so that we might become rich. I am admitting this Christmas advent season that though I have made strides in this area of interacting with the poor up close and personal, there is still a piece of me running from longer-term relationships with the poor. Bummer. At least I know. Now I can name it and deal with it.
(To clarify, people deserve functioning and clean accommodations. I aim to use my life to better the world physically and spiritually for all people, not some. But in order to accomplish either, I need to pick getting close to the poor without any sense of repugnance. There but by the grace of God go I.)
Are we poor in spirit?
Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:1-3)
In keeping with His embracing of the poor, Christ asks us to offer ourselves to Him in poverty. He asks us to empty ourselves so that He might live through us. He asks us to obey and trust no matter what. He asks us to hand Him our dreams and desires and circumstances and allow Him to swap them out for what is best for His Kingdom purposes instead.
Jesus asks no more from us than what He did for us.
Picture Explanation: These children are poor and have been waiting the longest in the Compassion International system HERE. If you can’t sponsor a child, please pause today to pray that these children receive a sponsor so they can receive schooling, food, and be taught about the love of God through Jesus Christ. For a link to Rajii waiting 605 days click HERE, for each of the remaining children waiting 591 days click HERE for Samanta, HERE for Singiten, or HERE for Kiran.
What to join a bible study?
If you are interested in being contacted to participate in a One Gritty Blink Bible study in 2023, click on the Oaks Ministries link below and contact me by email. Let’s focus on things that count for eternity!
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Wonderful post, Laurie! Thank you for your vulnerability. May we indeed remember God’s love and care for ALL people and overcome our prejudices and favoritism!
Yes, may that occur in us all.
To Laurie and LeAnn…I agree with both of you and thank you for your vulnerability Laurie. I quoted you on Linkedin. Your words have been a blessing to me, and may we all celebrate Christmas 365 days of the year❣️
For some reason, my blogs about Jesus this December have prepared my heart for Christmas more than ever. I am glad they have blessed others as well.