By Stephen Phinney

Weird question? – I think not! The proper and most honorable way to find out someone’s true character is by suddenly taking something away from him. The perfect way to find out an individual’s pride level is by giving him something with great value. The way we find out if a person can be trusted with things of GREATER value is by entrusting something of little value. Have I lost you yet? Don’t worry; in this article, we will examine the intrinsic value of suffering need.

Did you know that a pattern (cycle) can be found in the Scriptures regarding riches and poverty? It is true! God normally does not view riches or poverty as a permanent condition in the life of an individual, family, or even a nation. Notice that I said, “normally.”

Christ Himself was and is an incredibly wealthy man! The wealth He had while walking the face of the earth could not be measured by man. Think about it – a man, who literally owned the entire universe and then some, humbled Himself to suffer the need of poverty - being poor.

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9, NASB).

I saw a television show recently showing a millionaire pretending to be a person with a below average to average income. The mission was to “hit the streets” to visit the lowly and the organizations that serve them. At the end of the show, the millionaire would reveal his true identity and offer the organizations, which authentically “deserved” it, a large sum of cash. At first I thought, “Another reality show.” But after watching it, I quickly realized this concept is biblically accurate. In all actuality, that is what Christ did! He (Christ) is the literal Son of the Patriarch of the Universe, the wealthiest being in the whole universe and beyond. He was sent to humble Himself by suffering the need. During His short stay on this earth, He could have made every impoverished or needy person whom He came into contact with RICH by one spoken word; but, He didn’t. Instead, He suffered with and tested each of them, to see whose faith would be enhanced and who was deserving of True Riches, the kind that never rusts.

People who have learned to be content with being both rich and poor, full and hungry, quenched and thirsty, are the ones who will be honored and blessed with the riches found only in Heaven (See Philippians 4:11-12).

How was it that Christ, being the richest of eternity, was able to come to earth, humble Himself, and become one of the lowly? The key is “contentment.” The Greek word for “contentment” is “autarkes,” which means “to know one’s place.” Any person who knows one’s place in life is able to be at peace with humble circumstances. Anyone who does not know his place in eternity is NOT able to humble himself. This is why God obligates Himself to humble others. A content person is able to renounce all desire and want for the sake of another person’s gain; BUT, only with the power of Christ flowing in and through him.

Where do you stand in the checklist of humbly accepting suffer?
(Click on graphic to enlarge)

Click on Graphic to Enlarge
How did you do? Not so good? No worries – most of us don’t. Sordid gain carries a great deal of trouble with it. It puffs us up and causes us to be blinded to the reality of God’s desire to humble us with the needy. We all suffer with this. Poverty is such a blessing and there are great rewards connected to those who have learned to endure by it. A family that learns to love, when they have only bread to eat, is richer than the neighbor who has strife and a fattened cow spread across their family dining room table.

The cool thing about all this conviction stuff is: God’s kindness leads us to repentance. If you’re one of those who are being convicted, don’t blow this article off as another “interesting write.” Consider it as a gentle nudge to lead you to the feet of Jesus to repent.

God takes every Christian through a horrid time of discipline and pruning to increase his faith and move him to being fruitful in all things. Overall, He is causing us to be a reflection of the very life and face of Jesus Christ.