Poverty in the Rich

Are You Far Off?


In Isaiah 57:19 the following is stated:

I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord; and I will heal him.

God makes no progress in the one who thinks that peace is at hand in the ways and rewards of the world. Better the one who honestly despairs of the absence of inner, spiritual tranquility. Jesus reminds us that there is blessing to the one who is poor in spirit. His is the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:3). Oswald Chambers referred to the "door of destitution".

I remember reading a book of revival sermons by Brownlow North (1810-1875) entitled "The Rich Man and Lazarus" (Banner of Truth Publications). He meditated on the comparative situation of the two men who died in Luke 16. It appeared that the rich man left a large estate, a sumptuous table and a notable reputation among men to enter into torments and thirst at death. The pauper Lazarus was carried away to the exact opposite. I am reminded of the warning in Psalm 49: 16, 17:

Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased. For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him.

North suggested that this would probably be the greatest source of torment to the rich man; that he had lived to demonstrate to younger brothers, friends, employees and sharecroppers that life could contain bounty, peace and satisfaction without Christ. The man who claimed that peace was near, had none of it.

North had experienced this very truth earlier at age forty-four; a child of privilege, carefree from toil. Taken chronically ill he was convinced that he was going to die without elements of redeeming faith or service to his account. Memories of sport, excess and carousing haunted him, but mostly his failure to speak good words of Christ and to explore honestly the religious impressions of youth. He repented and was raised from his bed an awakened man and eventually an evangelist.

Do you perceive that you have a peace apart from Christ? Beware, you will find that you are hanging from a cobweb over torments. While you breathe there is yet time.



The Rich Man's Death

I could have blessed the beggar
Found daily near my door
And never missed the outlay
With always plenty more.
And brought him to my wardrobe
And dressed him in last year’s.
And filled his aching belly
And washed away his tears.

But fashion held me captive
And closed the hand of grace
For fear of colleagues’ censure
For need to know my place.
A privilege come from family,
And shored up for one’s heirs,
Not soon to heed a pauper
Not soon to bless his prayers.

Just yesterday they told me
He sighed his final breath.
But still I hear his calling
Despite the unsung death.
“The good Lord, this. The good Lord, that.”
Would season every phrase.
Perchance he’s gone up laughing
To meet Him face-to-face.

And I am left the poorer
For lack of showing love.
Alas, not mine the blessing
That he secures above.
Yes, his a peace unworldly
Not seen in all the rest.
The pain now comes intensely.
“My lot, my loss, MY CHEST!”


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Published by Doug Blair