A story in the New York Times from Sept. 23, 1984, is a vivid illustration of the fact that men and women can “live beneath” themselves. Titled “California Man Learns He May Be an Heir,” it told the tale of a man who, though he couldn’t afford $50 bail after being arrested for panhandling and public drunkenness, was stunned to learn that he might be the heir to millions of dollars.
The 40-year-old Victor Fimia, whose trembling hands, missing tooth and stubbly beard made him an unlikely looking heir, said he thought he “might get a check for $20.”
Having considered himself “the black sheep” of his family, he unexpectedly learned that his father had “left me something,” as he put it. According to his own testimony, he had spent 23 years on the streets and was arrested in a downtown park. Through a national computer check, the police learned he was reported missing from San Jose years ago. A police report said Fimia’s father had left his son several million dollars, but his sister, who filed the missing person report, said the inheritance was probably more like $30,000 to $40,000 — still a tidy sum.
Yes, he was a wealthy man — who didn’t know of his good fortune! He had done without, suffered needlessly and lived as a pauper for no good reason. He was literally living beneath himself.
In a spiritual sense, this is characteristic of the way many who are children of God live. Although “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Jesus Christ” (Romans 8:17), they may be living — like Fimia was — as virtual paupers. How does this sometimes demonstrate itself in our lives? How can we sometimes live beneath ourselves? Do you relate to any of these?
1. Although forgiven of every sin by the blood of Christ, some keep tormenting themselves for things that happened long ago. But the Bible says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us” (Psalms 103:12).
2. Even though God has promised his strength in times of weakness and stress, many keep on trying to cope with life by their own unaided power — and keep failing. But Peter said, “Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you” (1 Peter 5:7).
3. We have access to the boundless resources of God through prayer, but many are “too busy” to spend time talking with God, going to him only when we don’t know what else to do. But the apostle John said, “This is the confidence which we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us” (1 John 5:14).
4. Although assured of God’s undying love, it appears that doubt and frustration rule the lives of many believers. But Paul tells us that nothing “in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39).
Fimia had been living an undesirable and unenviable life for years. He had been living beneath himself! Asked what he planned to do when his wealth arrived, he replied he would “go down to the liquor store to finish my bottle of wine.” Similarly, even Christians, with all the spiritual resources available to us, often keep returning to the futile things of this life!
Of course, God has told us it doesn’t have to be that way. We can live as children of the King of kings and Lord of lords!