Our small group was addressing this point from the Luke 6 account where we see this contrast.
Blessed are the poor in spirit,…. Not the poor in purse, or who are so with respect to things temporal: for though God has chosen and called many, who are in such a condition of life, yet not all; the kingdom of heaven cannot be said to belong to them all, or only; but such as are poor in a spiritual sense.
All mankind are spiritually poor; they have nothing to eat that is fit and proper; nor any clothes to wear, but rags; nor are they able to purchase either; they have no money to buy with; they are in debt, owe ten thousand talents, and have nothing to pay; and in such a condition, that they are not able to help themselves.
The greater part of mankind are insensible of this their condition; but think themselves rich, and increased with goods: there are some who are sensible of it, who see their poverty and want, freely acknowledge it, bewail it, and mourn over it; are humbled for it, and are broken under a sense of it; entertain low and mean thoughts of themselves; seek after the true riches, both of grace and glory; and frankly acknowledge, that all they have, or hope to have, is owing to the free grace of God.
Now these are the persons intended in this place; who are not only “poor”, but are poor “in spirit”; in their own spirits, in their own sense, apprehension, and judgment: and may even be called “beggars”, as the word may be rendered; for being sensible of their poverty, they place themselves at the door of mercy, and knock there;
their language is, “God be merciful”; their posture is standing, watching, and waiting, at wisdom’s gates, and at the posts of her door; they are importunate, will have no denial, yet receive the least favour with thankfulness. Now these are pronounced “blessed”, for this reason,
My note: Surprisingly Luke who used the poor reference which we so easily humanize to make the social gospel wrote these amazing words that Jesus taught that illustrate this point.
Luk 18:9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
Luk 18:10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
Luk 18:11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
Luk 18:12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
Luk 18:13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
Luk 18:14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Now we know that the Publican’s as a class were not necessarily poor in wealth, since they often collected extra in their taxes, maybe this one was, but I doubt it, he was one truly poor in spirit!
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven; not only the Gospel, and the ministration of it, which belongs to them. “The poor have the Gospel preached”: it not only reaches their ears, but their hearts; it enters into them, is applied unto them, they receive and embrace it with the utmost joy and gladness; but eternal glory, this is prepared for them, and given to them; they are born heirs of it, have a right unto it, are making meet for it, and shall enjoy it.
Btw God does not neglect the poor in wealth, they are not forgotten, but welcomes, I think this is one reason Luke seems to emphasize this aspect, so that they know they too are included. But bring poor in wealth does put one in a high seat either. The Bible uses the word poor over 200 times.
Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause. Because he is a poor man, and for that reason endeavour to carry his cause for him, right or wrong, from a foolish pity to him as a poor man, and from an affectation of gaining the applause of people on that account; or “thou shalt not honour” or “adorn” a poor man (u), by a set speech in favour of his cause, though wrong, dressed up in the best manner, and set off with all the colourings of art, to make it appear in the most plausible manner; the law is against respect of persons, as not the person of the rich, so neither is the person of the poor to be accepted, but the justice of their cause is to be regarded; so the Targum of Jonathan,”the poor that is guilty in his judgment or cause, his face (or person) thou shalt not accept to have pity on him, for no person is to be accepted in judgment.”
(u) לא תהדר “non honorabis”, Pagninus, Vatablus, Drusius, Cartwright; “non decorabis”, Montanus; “ne ornes”, Tigurine version; “ne honorato”, Junius & Tremellius; “ne ornato”, Piscator.
Lev 19:15 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.
Deu 15:11 For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.
Joh 12:8 For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.
In the next post I want to look briefly about the teaching of righteousness.