What It Means To Be Poor..

            Are you a “string saver.”  I must confess that I am….at least when it comes to stories and anecdotes.  My computer and files are jammed full of “stuff.” Little “pieces of string” I save from every possible source.  Something I heard someone say, a phrase on a bumper sticker, a line from a book…..something that caught my eye and made me think.  That’s how it is with “sting savers.” I might be able to use that sometime, so I store it away for future reference.

Unfortunately my storage system is like a ball of string…..totally random.  I wish I had started filing by some logical system years ago and maybe I could find just the right anecdote, the proper illustration to make a point.  “Let’s see, I know I have that here somewhere!  What was that line?” Many I document so I know the source.  Others I have sent to me on the “net” or given by a friend and I have no idea of their origin.

            I have now come to the conclusion that I have absolutely no original thoughts or ideas. Everything I know comes from my “ball of string.” Something I remember from a class or a speaker or some random reading in the airport restaurant.  I guess I would have to admit that everything I write or speak I have stolen from someone else…..but listen….I only steal form the best!

            Such is the nature of the next few paragraphs.  I have no idea where I got this illustration.  It just was in my files as I tried to find something worthwhile to say to you this month.  I hope you get the point and it helps you in your life walk.


“One day a father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose of showing his son how poor people can be. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.

On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, "How was the trip?"

"It was great, Dad."

"Did you see how poor people can be?" the father asked. "Oh Yeah" said the son.

"So what did you learn from the trip?" asked the father.

The son answered, "I saw that we have one dog and they had four.

We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end.

We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night.

Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.

We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight.

We have servants who serve us, but they serve others.

We buy our food, but they grow theirs.

We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them."

With this the boy's father was speechless. Then his son added, "Thanks dad for showing me how poor we are."

What is one person's worthless object is another's prize possession. It is all based on one's perspective. Makes you wonder what would happen if we all gave thanks for all the bounty we have, instead of worrying about wanting more.

So many times we forget what we have and concentrate on what we don't have. We tend to base our worth and judge our circumstances by the circumstances of others.  That really is a poor standard.  One man in the Bible said he had found the key:  “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Phil 4:11-13)

Joy and peace are never found in possessions. Contentment is not the product, nor the result of circumstances.  Circumstances change!  What you OWN is of little comfort when you are diagnosed with cancer.  What you HAVE is of little importance when a child is killed in an accident. An Oklahoma farm “sowed down” in oil wells won’t give you your youth back when you are old.

What Paul says in these noted verses is that contentment comes from a relationship with Christ: “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” In other words, my circumstances don’t control my life.  I cannot control many circumstances but I can put my life in the hands of the one who controls this universe.

Does that mean if I follow Christ my road will be easy and all of a sudden I’ll get rich and be problem free?  No, but it does mean that whatever may arise in my life, I am not alone in dealing with it. The simple knowledge that, no matter what “happens” to me, my life is on a solid rock foundation and not shifting sand circumstance. That reality steadies my hand and gives me perspective. With Christ you have everything, without him you have nothing. If you are in difficult circumstances, there still can be joy, peace, and contentment. Those things come from within and a result of placing the control of your life in the proper hands.  Not the hands of happenstance but the hands of a living and active God.

Here’s your life lesson for this month.  It is not so important what you HAVE, but what you ARE.  Focus you life on the eternal and the changing circumstances of time seem of little significance.

 Take joy in all you have, especially your friends. And most of all, make a friend of Jesus Christ.

Oh, by the way, the idea of the “string saver” intro is mine….I think.  By: Jim Kelly, His Servant.

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