The wealth of Jesus was essential to his being; His poverty was willingly assumed; “He became poor.” By an act of unparalleled beneficence, He emptied Himself of His wealth and linked Himself with a life of dependent poverty. The only riches He retained were the “unsearchable riches of His grace,” which He bestowed freely upon the vilest of the race.
We learn in the first place, that poverty may exist in alliance with greatness and moral wealth. There is nothing in poverty essentially degrading or demoralizing. Wealth, unsanctified by divine grace, may depress our moral instincts and impair our noblest faculties, but poverty, hallowed of God, has often proved a school of grace in which that same nature has been molded into a vessel of honor.
Thus, poverty is not essentially sinful, though springing from original sin, and is often the sad and bitter fruit of wilful transgression against the soul and God. Yet, as in the case of our adorable Lord, and in countless instances of His disciples, it may be allied to the highest intellectual development, to the richest spiritual grace, and to the noblest formation of character. Did there ever exist one so poor in this world, yet one so holy, so gracious, and so useful as Jesus? Learn of Him!
Difficult circumstances help in the development of a life of faith in God. Such was the life of Jesus. As man, He as much lived by faith on God as His disciples. He never bids us walk in a path divergent from His own, but in each one ”left us an example that we should follow His steps.” Thus, the poor are dependent upon God, and the poverty of the Christian leads him to prayer, and prayer brings him into closer acquaintance with God. The more he knows of the character of God, the more he learns to love and fear and trust in Him. Oh, take your poverty to God. Your Heavenly Father knows and has promised, and is able, to supply all your needs. Do you think that He who feeds the birds of the air will neglect the children of His love? Never!
The poverty of Jesus was the wealth of others. Thus there are none so tried in their circumstances who may not contribute, in some degree, to the temporal or the spiritual necessities of others. He was “as poor, yet making many rich.” Hence we often find in the poor the greatest sympathy and help for the poor. Let not your limited resources, then, be a veil for stinginess, your poverty an excuse for unkindness. But imitate the early Christians, whose ”deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality” and consider Jesus, ”who, though He was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich.” Lay up treasures in heaven and let your life, amid its toil and trial, its poverty and need, be a holy preparation for your riches of glory above.
Taken from Consider Jesus: Thoughts for Daily Duty, Service, and Suffering by Octavius Winslow, 1870 (public domain). Edited and abbreviated by Aaron Dunlop for this blog ©thinkgospel.com.