When asked about proof of being Messiah, Jesus pointed out he gave sight to the blind, legs to the lame and hearing to deaf. But to the poor, He gave instruction for them to hear the Gospel (Matthew 11:5).
The Gospel preached at that time was one of repentance. The idea was to be prepared and be found worthy of the upcoming kingdom. Repentance is not money.
Money is not the remedy to poverty.
A change in heart condition is the solution.
When Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with ointment equivalent to nearly a year’s salary, the question was asked:
Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?John 12:5
What was Jesus’ response?
Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.John 12:8
A complaint was laid before our Lord at the assumed waste of wealth. Instead of Jesus condemning the action as selfish use of expensive ointment, He refused to defend the ideal that unneeded wealth should be redistributed to the poor.
He declared poverty as an ageless fact of human existence!
And His answer did not stop there: He condemned those that put forward such redistribution arguments as thieves!
Poverty is not remedied by money. It is remedied by Gospel preaching.
The poor are truly assisted when they have humble hearts and contrite spirits. Any other proposal to remedy poverty is based on covetousness. As the treasurer coveted the money for the ointment of spikenard, so too do many poor covet the wealth of the rich. Believing it to be a right, they miss out on divine blessing. Note how covetousness is contrasted with contriteness by Isaiah.
For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made. For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart.Isaiah 57:55-57
God’s concern for the humble is their spirit, not their bank balance.
God wants to help the down-trodden of society by reviving their hearts. According to the opening Beatitude, the poor in spirit are the ones given the promise for blessing. This spirit is one of repentance, not greed.
In the next article, we will take one more look at the promise contained within the Beatitude of Poverty and learn why piety cannot be measured by possessions.