But I am poor and needy: make haste unto me, O God: thou art my help and my deliverer; O LORD, make no tarrying. (Psalms 70:5)
I wrote this article while sitting in the food court at Chicago O’Hare waiting for my flight to continue my trip home to Lexington, KY. It was a long, long layover, so I decided to make use of my time by doing a little bit of work. I really don’t consider it so much work but rather the privilege of consuming my time with the Word of God.
As we were waiting on the plane to disembark at the Chicago airport, the lady in front of me stood up and I noticed she was wearing a beautiful diamond studded cross around her neck. I was thinking about this cross as I sat down to write this article. I had forgotten what Psalm I was dealing with this week, so when I opened my Bible I was struck by verse 5 of Psalm 70. David wrote, “I am poor and needy.” The diamond studded cross around the lady’s neck was a glaring contrast to these words, but more importantly to the whole idea of a cross.
Our spiritual need is expressed by the first beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The poor in spirit are those who realize they are spiritually bankrupt with no hope to lift themselves from the throes of their deep poverty. We would think that in order to deliver the bankrupt it would take an abundance of riches. Who can help someone who is poor if they are equally poor? Despite the paradox, this is what Christ did. He became poor, forsaking the riches of heaven in order that we might be made rich. The cross He went to was not embossed with jewels because no such crosses existed. His cross was rough, splintered, and blood stained. It represented the most reprehensible death possible, and most criminals that experienced it were considered dangerous threats to society.
David said, “I am poor and needy” and in order for Christ to meet His need He went down to the place David was. Jesus is able to succor us because He feels our infirmities having experienced all we have been through. I scarcely believe Jesus would think a cross of diamonds would fairly represent who He is. This shows just how little most people understand of the reproach of the cross. If we knew it at all, no one would ever make a piece of jewelry of it. We would be horrified to wear it for such a misplaced purpose as an ornament of beauty.
I was not able to speak with this lady and I am sure she would not want to hear my opinion of her cross. She may have been a well-meaning Christian that was making a statement of her faith. On the other hand, she may have been like those who think such religious ornaments are required as meritorious acts that aid in salvation. A third option is that she likes beautiful, expensive jewelry not even thinking of belief in the one who died on the cross. The last two options are dangerous. Misapplying the work of the cross or ignoring its significance leads both persons to the same punishment. Neither understands how poor and needy they are.
Do you understand how God really sees you, and do you know what Christ did to change how He looks at you? The cross makes the difference. If He sees the cross before He sees you, the cross has fulfilled its intended purpose.
Pastor V. Mark Smith