Impressive? Not so Much.

Psalm 40:17

I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me.

Mark 6:41–42

Jesus blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. And all ate and were filled.


I’m not certain how anyone with a flatscreen TV, a house with more than three rooms, appliances, furniture, a car, and a computer would be considered poor and needy by the world’s standards. That was brought home to me when we visited Kenya and were invited to our driver’s home before heading back to the United States. The family of four lived in a rented mud hut with a kitchen (replete with charcoal-burning fire-pit “stove”) and a single room which served as eating area, sleeping quarters, and living area. They served us coffee with milk and sugar, and bread and butter. I’m not certain how they afforded the loaf of bread or the milk and butter they gave us.

Somehow, however, he realized that God had not disregarded him and his family. He is a believer, serving in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya, driving for the local bishop and guests the church hosts. Hence we were he charge for the afternoon. More important, he did not despair of God’s grace, nor even make much of his poverty: not one word of complaint. He had dreams of building his own tin-roof hut some day, but in the mean time he was serving God as a driver for the church.

Perhaps, however, the stark contrast between his life and ours belies a greater kinship than we might imagine. We can judge our poverty or wealth by the world’s standards. There are TV shows that showcase homes which would make all but 1 in 100,000,000 of ours look shabby. There are chauffeurs who earn more than a successful middle class businessman. And there are people living in cardboard boxes in the city dump in Nairobi who envy our driver.

But the One who owns “the cattle on a thousand hills,” who claims the gold and silver of the world as His own (cf. Hagai 2:8) is little impressed with our 55 inch flatscreen TVs. We may not think of ourselves as poor by the world’s standards. But by God’s standards we have nothing all that impressive. God gives grace to the humble – those who recognize their real poverty, and live in humility before him. When we receive his favor we are truly filled.

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