Is the Gospel for the Poor?
Copyright © 2007 Good News Publications
Today I want to show you a misconception that I believe dominates the Christian Church and has distorted our view of the truth of prosperity. In the Gospel of Luke, Christ said,
Luke 4:18: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,"
Now, having heard this, what picture comes to mind? Most people say, "Look, it says it right there. The Gospel is to be preached to the poor. Doesn't this sound familiar? Almost everyone has bought into it, but I say that it's wrong. Look where it takes your thinking: - We preach the Gospel to the poor - They are the ones who need God's Word - The rich don't need God - The rich don't want God - That's why I never want to be wealthy and get to the place I don't need God - That's why money is bad.
All this thinking is wrong and the reason is, we don't understand the word "poor". People think it is talking about money, but the word "poor" simply refers to lack or meager supply. Have you ever heard the term "poor health"? Does that mean that his or her health has no money? Have you ever heard a farmer say the land was "poor"? Does that mean the land had no money? In both cases it is lack-lack of health and lack of nutrients in the soil.
In verse 18 of Luke 4 it says that he was sent to heal the broken hearted-they were lacking a whole heart and thus poor. He preached deliverance to the captives-they were not free and thus poor. He helped others recover their sight both spiritually and physically-they were blind and thus poor.
It is religion that has taught us that prosperity and wealth are wrong.
Psalm 35:27: Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the Lord be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.
As wonderful as this verse is, it takes on even more meaning when you realize that the word for "prosperity" is the word "Shalom" which means "peace". It is a beautiful translation. When you are at peace, you are content, you don't have any needs or lack and that is the perfect picture of prosperity.
Abundance without God is folly: you are spiritually poor so you are not prosperous. But most Christians don't think they have the right to be wealthy or prosper. Prospering is part of being whole; if you don't have it, you aren't whole and that is not how God planned it. You are not whole until you are financially whole and in order to receive that wholeness you must believe that this is at least part of what God wants for your life.
How often have you heard, "You're being spiritual so, you don't need money or abundance-that will just distract you." Distract you? Some of the most distracted people I know are the ones who can't pay their bills. When my checking account is overflowing, I'm not distracted by bills at all-in fact I have more time to spend with God because I am no longer concerned about money. The fact is the only time you don't need money is before you came into this world and when you leave it-but while you are here you will need material things and God wants you to have them in abundance.
Now, I am going to teach you something that will really open your eyes and you had better be careful about sharing it, because you could make some people very mad.
Psalm 112:1-3: Praise ye the Lord. Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in his commandments. His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed. Wealth and riches shall be in his house: and his righteousness endureth for ever.
Here is a man whose heart is with God and God has blessed him abundantly.
Psalm 112:9: He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth for ever; his horn shall be exalted with honour.
In verse 9 it says that this man has given to the "poor" and here is where you might get upset. E.W. Bullinger says in his Companion Bible that the word "poor" means "working for a living; poor, not in extreme want, but simply having only what one earns, having nothing superfluous, living sparingly".
How many Christians use their meager living on bare necessities as a badge of their Christian faith, when God says plainly that they are poor? Don't get mad at me; I didn't write the book. So does living meagerly represent God? Not according to this section of scripture.
Now please understand that if you are just getting by, God's Word says you are poor because there is lack. And if you have a billion dollars, but lack health or don't know God-you are also poor because of your lack. So to go back to our original question, "Is the gospel for the poor?" Yes it is, but just make sure you understand what poor means.
Duke Clarke is a writer/teacher/coach/lecturer and minister. He has started a new website http://www.TheThinkingChristianInstitute.com to get people to think about their lives and walk with God. He is nondenominational in background and invites anyone to visit and take a look.