The poor and humble have always been indiscriminate of the help they receive. A man down to his last meal will savor the crumbs that fall of the rich man’s table. A man severely parched in a desert cries in desperation “dip the tip of your finger in water and cool my tongue”. Hardly ever does a poor man turn away the helping hand he is offered. In spite of his age, gender, or status, a poor man looks to the helping hand as capable of saving him from his present torment, caring very little if at all, whether the hand be that of a child, a woman, or even an animal. The only hand that can be of no use to him is that of another poor hand in an identical situation as him. The blind cannot be of help to the blind.
In contrast, a rich man is often highly selective of the help he receives. Indeed, he unwillingly accepts help even in the event that all his resources fail him. Naaman the Syrian leper, with all his wealth, clout and influence, grudgingly dips himself in the Jordan. The rich take delight in refusing help and in being able to exclaim, “by my own strength I have saved me”! It’s always been a fact that the poor have always been receptive of the Gospel. The countries where Christianity dominates are the countries whose citizens are poor. The rich have no need, or think they have no need, of the nail-pierced-hand that reaches out to them. “And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God”.
In Matthew 5, Jesus begins his teaching ministry with the classic Beatitudes. In the Beatitudes he describes eight traits of one kind of person who is able to enter the kingdom of God. In brief, verse 3 sums up that kind of person. “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. To understand why the poor have been able to enter God’s kingdom, and the rich unable, we must explore what it means to be poor. To be poor is to be in lack of something. We can say of a person, “he is poor in health”, “poor in finances”, “poor in looks”. What we mean is that the person either lacks health, money, or good looks. Such a person is in a state of desperation, and would accept any doctor — qualified or unqualified; accept whatever change one is willing to spare; accept whoever finds them attractive. On the other hand, the rich are in a state of self-sufficiency. He can provide for himself the best doctors; he is no need of your coins; he dates only the most attractive. In other words, he is his own savior. The unfortunate thing is that, as men, whether rich or poor, we are all in a desperate, critical spiritual state. Sin is eating away at our spiritual health. We have all sinned and cannot by own efforts attain God’s acceptance. The PRESENCE of earthly riches, whether it be in money, health or looks, disillusions one to the reality of his true poverty — that he or she is a sinner in need of God’s free grace. The ABSENCE of earthly riches, whether it be in money, health, or looks, causes one to begin to see for the first time that the true problem is “I am a sinner in need of a Savior’! This discovery doesn’t come by easily. It requires us to reach a point where we see our “spiritual poverty”. Then in that desperation, we will cry out for a hand to save us. In that desperation, we will look to the nail-pierced-hands and see that, it is the only hand that can save us. For as I said previously, the only hand that is useless to a poor man is that of another hand in the same poor state. We cannot look to the hand of another man to save us for all men are equally spiritually impoverished. All men are sinners. There are no hands clean, except those of the nail-pierced-hands. It is His hand alone that can save us from our torment. It is they who recognize that “I am poor in spirit” that can for the first time begin to make strides into the kingdom of God!