Facing Beggar’s Shame

We are all beggars, all beggars indeed. But, the beggars who live are those who learn where to find the bread and water, who know the Hand that feeds us all.

“I’m not a beggar … I’m a child of God!”

“Why all this talk of begging when God has given us the privilege of sons and daughters? Isn’t Christian salvation more about elevating than demoting our standing before God?”

These very questions reflect how much our perception of salvation is skewed by an unyielding focus on ourselves.

Yes, we are unspeakably blessed as children of God—he really does answer prayers, meet needs, and direct steps—but the greatest gift of all is access to his presence. To underestimate the value of his presence is to overestimate the importance of ourselves—getting what we want and securing our happiness.

Jesus taught that true life comes only to those who learn to give it away (Matthew 10:39). So those who do are those who learn to beg. Understand, the mystery of the beggar is not about how much we own but how much our stuff owns us. More than any others, these surrendered souls understand the privilege of their position. They accurately see their need and are freed from trying to secure it themselves.

We use the word “beggar” because it implies one who needs something only another can give. We do not use the term to imply notions of worthlessness … one groveling in the dirt at the feet of another reluctantly giving in disgust or sheer obligation.

Nor are we romanticizing poverty or lauding the misery of suffering. There is nothing redemptive about poverty in and of itself. Rather, we speak of a desperate dependency on God … relentlessly trusting his loving-kindness.

In the story of the Prodigal Son, Jesus imaged God as a compassionate father yearning to help his beloved son and was only restrained from doing so until he was asked (Luke 15:11-32). Being a beggar before God is not a label of shame but a badge of humble honor.

Jesus also taught, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). Such ones have gained the King’s ear and his authority has been extended. Truly, the answer to ultimate blessing is not what we’ve expected—we are all beggars, all beggars indeed!

Yet, understanding this answer is more than just casually affirming God’s general provision. Such beggars don’t just need God, they need him now! For the gift of his presence has become the source of their life. Indeed, these are the ones who’ve discovered where to find the bread and the water, who know the Hand that feeds us all. Next week we discuss how fear relates to the glorious life of the broken beggar.

 


What Do You Think?

Is the “beggar” label offensive to you? Do you agree with the ultimate blessing answer? Why or why not?


 

♦  To see the video and poem this post is based on, click here.

 

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Author: David Trementozzi

David Trementozzi is married to his wife, Emily and they have three children—Judah, Kaleb, and Halle. David likes to write on topics related to Christian faith and their contemporary theological relevance. He has a B.A. in Psychology (Messiah College), Masters of Divinity, and Ph.D in Theology (Regent University). David is currently a professor of Theology at Continental Theological Seminary in Brussels, Belgium. To learn more about David, go to the About David page above.