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Precepts are the building blocks of the scriptures. Anyone who does not currently know this is undoubtedly making many misconceptions when they study. The poor precept is not something that is even considered a precept—nothing to see here. The Bible often speaks of the people with limited resources as poor, but is that the only way the word is used?
Poor and poverty
Poverty is not funny, and seeing how many people worldwide suffer pains me. Even in so-called rich countries, millions live in poverty, impoverished, and even scrounging on the streets. The United States is a perfect example of this. The countries that adopt capitalism and hold it dear to their hearts exemplify the road to poverty for many. This is what capitalism is and does!
Capitalism an economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit.
While I can go on about the ills of capitalism and how it inflicts poverty on the world, the “poor” under the microscope is the precept.
Jesus spoke profound words, including the following where he said he preached the gospel to the poor.
Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.Luke 7:22 KJV
The question begs to be asked. Why didn’t Jesus preach the gospel to the rich? Is it that the rich were not interested? Is it because Jesus does not like the rich? But this cannot be since the centurion and even Nicodemus were interested. The young ruler was also interested despite needing more dedication to follow through. Jesus also preached to the tax collectors, Zacchaeus being a perfect example.
Jesus preached to everyone who wanted the gospel. To those with monetary plus asset riches and also to those in poverty. It is evident that what Jesus meant by the word poor differs from the assumed understanding.
The following passage underpins the precept.
17. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
18. I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.Revelation 3:17 KJV
Being financially or asset rich is equated to poverty by Jesus. And he counsels that you buy gold tried in the fire so that you may be rich. So that you may have white raiment (righteousness) and hide the shame of your nakedness (Adam and Eve’s Sin).
Gold tried in the fire
For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried.Psalms 66:10 KJV
And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.Malachi 3:3 KJV
There are many more examples of the purifying of God. See this list here.
The gold tried in the fire refers to being purged of impurities so we may offer offerings of righteousness to God. So we may live under his commandments and exemplify his standards in the world. We are to have clean garments that are white and overpowered with the sweet smell of righteousness.
He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.Revelation 3:5 KJV
The ones who overcome the world wear white clothing. They are those purified by the refiner’s fire—the people who have been cleansed through trials and direction by God.
There is more to the precept
5. Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?
6. But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?James 2:5-6 KJV
James tells us that the poor are those rich in faith. Not the lip service faith, but those who trust in God. The ones who believe what He has said and are willing to do it, no matter the consequence. These are the people who desire to know God and are willing to sacrifice their lives for him.
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.Revelation 12:11 KJV
The rich are those who hate God and despise his commandments. They, through wickedness, persecute the poor because they serve Satan and this world.
The poor are those rich in faith, ready to be counselled and purified by God and be righteous before him.
Be poor and humble, doing all the good things of God in this world. Serve up your life to Him, handing it over and submitting to His will. Let go of the world and your life in this world, caring for nothing besides the things of God.