The Gifts of the Poor
by S. M. Hutchens
It does not matter whether the Lord said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” or more simply, “Blessed are you poor,” for they mean the same thing. Poverty and wealth are, even in this world, states of the soul, of which material wealth is the necessary but separable symbol. He gives hard words, the very opposite of beatitudes, to those who think themselves wealthy but are instead “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked,” and he says to the blessed, “I know your tribulation and your poverty—but you are rich.”
Given this direct teaching of the Lord, to which many Scriptures bear witness, it is a particularly irresponsible mistake for those who are accounted to be Christians, and all the more so for teachers in the Church, to treat material wealth or poverty as though they were necessarily connected with virtue or blessedness, or its lack. This error is made to the applause of the liberal mind by numerous church authorities who create a romance of poverty that blinds them to, and excuses, wickedness among the materially poor, to whom they grant a “preferential option.” In this way, the law of God, “You shall not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty,” may be perverted with the blessing of the church.
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S. M. Hutchens is a Touchstone senior editor.
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