Worship in Community

Generous Beggar

So, I have finally decided to start a blog to catalog and share my thoughts on living the Christian life. In wrestling with what to call it, I created a list of about 10 possible names. I wanted something descriptive enough that it gave substance to what I am trying to do and generic enough to allow me to touch on a wide variety of topics. I ended up with the name Generous Beggar.

A few years ago, I came across a YouTube video (Homeless Man – experiment). I don’t know if the homeless man was real or staged, but what it communicates is interesting. A homeless man is gifted with money and doesn’t know where it came from. Shortly after, a young man sits next to the homeless man and had a conversation on his phone about needing money for his daughter’s medicine (this conversation was fictional). The homeless man, who spent the money at Target, overhears the phone conversation and returns his items to Target. He gives the money to the young man to help with his daughter’s medicine.  When he realized that he was given something he didn’t earn and understanding what it means to be in need, he seemed freer to share it with others who were in need.

It seems to me that there are at least 2 reasons why we are not more ready to share for the good of our fellow-man; entitlement and greed. We think we have earned what we have, we think we deserve it. Not only this, but we are never satisfied, we always want more. We always want what they have.

So, where does this leave us? We are fallen, frail, and prone to fail people. We are undeserving and God loves us all the same. We have seen the goodness of Christ. We have experienced the sweetness of forgiveness. We have been filled with the enabling power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish eternal things that we could never do on our own. We have found food!, the kind of food that Jesus spoke of when he said, “I have food to eat that you do not know about. … My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work…” (John 4:31-34) We are at the mercy of God, but we have found something wonderful. I do not have anything wonderful to give, but I have found something. We have found the Gospel of Grace. We have found the Savior, the Redeemer, the Enabler, the Treasure. We have found JESUS!

William Carey was an early 19th-century missionary to India, who is referred to as The Father of Modern Missions. He translated the Bible into nearly 40 different Hindi dialects and gave his life to social justice and Gospel proclamation and suffered greatly in this endeavor. When he died, he had the following etched on his gravestone:

A wretched poor and helpless worm,

on Thy kind arms I fall.

william-carey

Many have done only a fraction of a percent of what William Carey did, yet they go to their graves, not with this kind of deeply set humility, but a self-righteous sentiment of “living a good life” or “doing my best.” This is not how the spiritual giants in our history viewed themselves!!

For example, we see the spark that ignited the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther, whose dying words were: Wir sein Pettler (German)  /  Hoc est Verum (Latin). It translates: We are beggars, this is true. How could the man who did so much for the Church say this? Rarely, if ever, have we confronted the religious authorities of our day and suffered for this. Many wanted to kill him! We may chance not being liked, or risk a “bad” reputation, maybe even suffer losing a job or be forced to leave a church. But we probably (at least here in the United States) will never come close to risking what Luther did for the Church. Yet, he viewed himself as a beggar, destined to die, unless God showed him mercy. And this is what Jesus, in fact, did for Martin Luther.

There was a missionary to Venezuela whose quote I kept on my desk when I taught high school Bible, it read, “It has been well for me to remember, when speaking to others, that I am a dying man speaking to dying souls.” This quote was a daily reminder not to think too highly of myself. (Romans 12:3) I am no “better” than my students. By God’s grace, I have found things in His Word. I did not create these things. My insights are not unique. I only want to share with fellow fallen people what I’ve found.

Not too long after I began teaching,  I came across an article about Charles Colson. He went from the heights of power, serving the president of the United States (Nixon), to serving time in prison. He found this food that Jesus spoke of. In this article, Colson said, “I am only a hungry beggar showing other hungry beggars where I found food.”

This is the posture that we should all take in all of our ministry efforts. It is not only the safest position, considering that “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18), but is also the honest position, “For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” (Galatians 6:3) And so the Generous Beggar blog is born. This is the position that I have tried to minister from since 1999 and it’s the position that I will strive to cling to as long as I live. May you find the “food” that Jesus has for you, and may it energize you, comfort you, and give you the hope needed to endure the joyful, long-suffering Christian life.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with the humble is wisdom.

Proverbs 11:2

Categories: Worship in Community

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