Every Thought Captive

Thou Who Wast Rich beyond All Splendor

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich.

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

2 Corinthians 8:9; 1 Timothy 6:17-19

How would you describe the message of Christmas? The birth of Jesus is such a significant event that God’s word gives us many ways to comprehend the incomprehensible. The Word became flesh. The light shines in the darkness. The Savior is born. The promised Messiah has come. God has sent good news of great joy. In 2 Corinthians 8:9, Paul reaches into the language of riches and poverty to help us see another angle of the Incarnation. The Lord Jesus Christ, though He was rich, for our sake became poor, so that we through His poverty might become rich. If we understand the reality and gravity of sin, we should not be surprised that God is rich and we are poor. What separates Christianity from every other approach to life is the shocking statement that follows: Jesus Christ voluntary became poor so that we might become rich in Him. As the hymn highlights, our King was “rich beyond all splendor”, “God beyond all praising”, and “love beyond all telling”. But “all for love’s sake” He became poor. Do we see God as “rich beyond all splendor” and ourselves as poor by comparison?

We are like young children trying to grasp the monetary system. Children don’t really have a concept for currency. The difference between $1, $100, $10,000, and $1,000,000 is lost on them—which is why you should let them play with your wallet. We struggle to grasp God’s strange accounting. When we’re swimming in the world’s currency and values, we are fish out of water in the King’s economy. Did you know that a person making around $34,000 is in the top 1% of the richest people in the world? Our cultural obsession with worldly riches makes it difficult to appreciate how well many of us are doing. It also makes it difficult to see God’s true riches and our own poverty.

If Paul’s statement of the gospel in 2 Corinthians 8:9 rings hollow, we need the Holy Spirit to open our eyes. As the Lord graciously reveals our poverty to us, we can pray that His riches will appear all the more impressive to us, too. When we see His riches and our poverty, we also are prepared to be amazed by His love—that He would make Himself poor for our sake. Let’s slow down, take our time, and pray through the questions below. Perhaps one or two will stand out to us and warrant further reflection.

Investigate my life, O God,
find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
get a clear picture of what I’m about;
See for Yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong—
then guide me on the road to eternal life. (Psalm 139:23-24, The Message)

Lord, are we more impressed with earthly riches than Your riches?
Do we find our identity and value in what we have?
Show us our poverty apart from You.

Lord, are we more focused on material things than relationships?
Do we love work and success and stuff more than we love people?
Show us our poverty apart from You.

Lord, do we ever confess the sin of greed?
Are our lives more about greed or generosity?
Have you given us so much…and it’s still not enough?
Show us our poverty apart from You.

Lord, are we so satisfied with the security that money brings,
that we don’t realize that we depend on you for every meal and every breath?
Are we really successful in the world…and still unsatisfied?
Show us our poverty apart from You.

Lord, as you reveal our true poverty to us, make us poor in spirit. Nothing in our hands we bring; simply to Your cross we cling. We praise You for the riches of grace that are ours in Christ. Help us to see ourselves as You see us. Save us from a life of gaining the whole world and losing our soul. Help us to see the joy of following You, of making ourselves poor that others might become rich in You. May Your lavish generosity make us a generous people. Savior and King, we worship You!

About the Author

Photograph of Robby Higginbottom

Robby Higginbottom

Pastor of Community

Park Cities Presbyterian Church

Robby Higginbottom was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. Beginning in high school, he sensed the Lord calling him to pastoral ministry. Robby is a graduate of Highland Park High School, Duke University, and Redeemer Seminary. He currently serves as Pastor of Community at PCPC. Robby is married to Ann, and they have two children: Will and John.