Rich and Poor

Matt. 19:24-26; 2 Cor. 12:9

Now I think it must strike anyone when he gets a glimpse of what God's thoughts for the believer are, what high thoughts God has about him! We exclaim, "Oh! this is absolutely hopeless. It is impossible." Well, that is perfectly true. It is impossible. The impossibility and the hopelessness of being what God wants us to be is the beauty of it. It stamps the matter as from God. If it were only very difficult indeed, there would be no encouragement, at all events, for ordinary people like ourselves, and it would only be a human thing after all. One or two especially earnest and devoted people with extraordinary natural powers might be able to attain to it, but the mass would have to give it up and say, It is too hard for us.

But, thank God, it is absolutely out of the power of man altogether; and therefore, if done at all, God must do it, and is not that a comfort to you and to me? Remember that it is not difficult but absolutely impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God, and yet every man is rich naturally. Yes, it is perfectly true that we are all naturally rich, for every one of us has an uncommonly good opinion of himself, and is therefore a rich man. Yet it is impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God; no one enters there till he is stripped of all, and is rich no more. Then, when stripped of everything, he finds he is really rich, whereas when he was rich he was really poor. This is God's way, and it is wonderful in our eyes. Take the convicts in a jail, or take the man, who is a drunkard in rags, still he thinks well of himself, and makes excuses for himself, till God strips him.

It is a great thing to see that what Christianity brings in is divine from beginning to end. God has to do it all. Nothing of man comes into it at all. Who is the best off, the one who has most of what we call the natural good qualities? Not at all. The greatest hindrance to arriving at the point of blessing are the qualities men admire. "That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God." That one is best off, who most quickly learns that he has nothing of his own but his sin, and that he has no strength to be any other than what he now is, struggle how he may. Therefore the more wicked I see myself to be, and the bigger the fool I recognise in myself, the better it is for me and the better for God, for then, and not till then, God can work. As Billy Bray said, when asked how it was he got on so well, "It takes most people such a long time to learn that they are fools, and I knew I was a fool to start with." But we think so well of ourselves that we struggle and fight for years and years rather than come down to this: we think if we do we shall forfeit blessing, whereas it is only then that blessing can come, for not till then can we belong to the company of the "blessed poor" spoken of by the Lord in Luke 6:20. The difficulty is not in our badness, in our helplessness and need. The whole difficulty lies in this that we fancy we have resources, and will not abandon this idea. It is easier to give one's body to be burned than to realise nothing is our own but our sin. Once we come to know this all is easy, then God does the rest, and the impossible is brought to pass.

But till we come to this no blessing can come, for it is impossible that God should give His glory to another. Did He do so, He would cease to be God. He cannot hand over His place to you; He cannot give you the credit that belongs to Himself alone. Blessed be God, He must have the glory. Therefore it is that God must smash us to pieces in order to bless us, because only thus can He be glorified in His Son, and it be seen that He alone is worthy. Man is worthless, he is done for, there is not a single good thing in him at all. God has set him aside and begun again in a new Man according to His own heart, and when God works in us all is well, not otherwise.

Well, I know that you have an answer ready for me. You will say, "Then I am not responsible." "Oh! yes, you are, you are responsible all the time." You say, "This is not logical, not according to reason." But you are mistaken. Take God's word in its simplicity, accept it all, give each part its due weight. Accept all that is said about God's sovereignty. Accept all that is said about man's responsibility. Do not shirk either. It will prove to be perfectly according to reason, only that reason is of such a high order that man's reasons cannot reduce it to reason. Man is out of joint, and he will not understand till he gets into joint again. In the meanwhile we have to accept the truth like a little child would; then all will be simple, for we shall then be the subjects of divine power, and find that our badness and our foolishness are just the occasion that God desires that He may come in with His divine power. God has everything for the one, who takes his place as a poor one before Him.

God grant we may all hear the Lord's voice saying to us, Blessed poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. What is the kingdom of God? What are the kingdoms of men? Kingdoms where men have sway, and, therefore, all is wrong. The kingdom of God is where God has sway in grace according to His love, and all is blessedness there. Therefore let Him smash you up and break you to pieces. You will find this the road to blessing. The reason why we have to be so smashed up is because we are something, and this something hinders blessing. "Nothing" cannot be smashed up, "nothing" cannot be squashed, "nothing" cannot be humiliated, "nothing" cannot be put down lower, "nothing" cannot be hurt. Oh! if we were only nothing to be made nothing of. If we would only let God come in in this way, and make room for all His blessing how happy He would make us.

Look at the cross on the one hand, and the glory on the other. Christ Himself was cut off and had nothing, therefore we have the answer to the cross in the glory. This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes.