Being a Beggar

“I cannot humble myself if I don’t understand that brokenness and suffering are gifts” and that the pathway to humility and ultimately hope is to take on the very same attitudes of Christ.  

What was the attitude of Christ? Humility (Philippians 2)

The story is told that on his death bed, Martin Luther expressed the following thought: “We are all beggars.” This thought is quite transformative in not only the way we should approach our own lives but the way we approach others and the hope we have of building true Biblical community. The only way I can truly express this thought of embracing humility and knowing hope is to see “the gospel as one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread.”.

There are many themes at work in this thought. We see the one beggar as owning nothing, carrying little, and yet having a great treasure to share: the location of bread. We see in the midst of this seeming poverty something entirely different than what we would expect – generosity, joy, and hope. And why? Because in his brokenness and humility he wants to share the joy of knowing where the bread is.  His current condition does not define him; it is the bread itself that does.  Knowing where the bread is doesn’t change his condition, but it does give him hope and reliance upon the one who supplies him the bread.  

A beggar without hope and pride hoards his treasure. He does not believe his store will be replenished and growls at anyone who would beg from him a crumb. He resents anyone who also finds the bread.

And yet this generous beggar shares because this beggar is one who has confronted his own brokenness and responded in humility. He knows he is not his own, and in finding a deep well of hope, wants to share it with others. He has found a bread that will never run out.

Daily Bread

Sharing the hope of the Gospel is not telling other beggars where I found the bread once. It’s where I continue to find the bread. Once a beggar, always a beggar. And the challenge for those of us who have found the bread (Jesus Christ), is that the bread cart keeps moving. If I want to know the joy and satisfaction and the hope of the Living Bread, I have to daily pursue the bread cart. I must acknowledge my need (my brokenness) on a daily basis.

In Exodus 16, we are given the story of the manna and quail that the Lord sent to the Israelites to feed them. That food was only supplied for the day (and for two days the day before the Sabbath). If people tried to gather food for more than that day, it spoiled and turned bad and was full of bugs. Each day they had to wait upon the Lord to supply their needs. And He did not fail.

Nothing in Scripture describes this thought better than 2 Corinthians 4:5-10, 13-18.  I have put my thoughts in the parenthesis to help give context to this line of thinking:

“You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. (HUMILITY) We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord (THE GOSPEL), and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake (BEGGARS). For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ (GOSPEL). We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves (BEGGARS). We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies” (BROKENNESS).…

But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke (BEGGARS). We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you.  All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory (BEGGARS OF HOPE). That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day (BROKENNESS TO HOPE). For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever (HUMILITY TO HOPE)! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever” (KNOW HOPE).

I pray that we would take on the heart of a beggar.  Each day we have an opportunity to care for those who are broken and hurting. Let’s share through our words and actions where we find our hope.  

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