Posts Tagged ‘rich’

Photo by Irm Brown

Photo by Irm Brown

So simple really, how else would the weak find traction? God is the great equalizer.

Then Asa cried out to the Lord his God, “Lord, only you can help the weak against the powerful.Help us, Lord our God, because we rely on you. . . [2 Chronicles 14:11a]

Unfortunately, the strong forget their own need for God. They rely on themselves. And eventually, the mighty fall. Sometimes, in their pride, the strong give assistance to the weak, but it is always measured, to keep the weak in their place. Or worse, the gifts are not particularly useful or what is actually needed.

When I was in Africa on a mission trip, we visited one of the poorest villages that was created on a portion of land owned by a wealthy landowner for the families of the men who worked his land. They were reminiscent of slave quarters, but African style with dirt floors and huts and water a football field away that had to be carried daily by the women and children. They were fortunate to have a place to live but nothing more. From the landowner’s perspective, he had been generous, but it was a measured generosity. That was bad enough but while there, among the partially clothed children was a little girl who wore a torn and tattered party dress, clearly, a gift from a well-meaning westerner who had sent used clothing to the poor. The girl probably loved that dress, but what was the donor thinking? Again, a misplaced generosity.

If the strong want to help the weak, they must enter the life of the weak. So did our Jesus serve humanity. So did Mother Teresa in India  and Jackie Pullinger in China.


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It’s not always what we think it is: true life. Understanding is particularly difficult for the wealthy and, even though I hate to say it, I am among these. Most Americans are. We have abundance and we have fooled ourselves into believing it’s the life, that American dream.

I Timothy 6:19
In this way they [the wealthy] will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

Oh, compared to Bill Gates or Warren Buffet, I’m not rich. But, compared to the millions of people who live on a dollar a day or who are deeply dependent on welfare and social security subsidies, I am flush. And yet, Paul admonishes his mentee, Timothy, to pay particular attention to the wealthy, who must be reminded often that it is not their goods, but their good works that have value over time. It is their liberal generosity willingness to share with others. . . . not just share money, but time.

The rich become complacent and arrogant more easily.

I can certainly attest to the complacency. If it were not so, I would be manifesting greater service to those in need. It’s not that I don’t care, I just can’t seem to “fit it all in.” How lame.

As a supervisor, I have asked employees who struggle with “best use of their time” to log their days for a couple of weeks and analyze how their time is really spent. Clearly, I need to to do the same thing.

What did I do yesterday that was investment in “true life?” What will I do today?

Sometimes and maybe even more than sometimes, generosity is not about money, but about generosity of the heart. If we give out of true self, like time and authentic connections, that has value too. Can I give bountifully of myself today? Can I stay mindful enough of the inner presence of the Holy Spirit, that I can be open to feel, to hear, to see, to sense, the pain of another, the loss, the hollow places that need an outpouring of love? Can I? Will I?

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Luke 6:24
“But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort…”

I am so uncomfortable with this teaching of Jesus. Face it: I am rich and this is not good news.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I am really just like everyone else I know on the most part–middle class. But in comparison with the rest of the world, we’re rolling in dough. When I take the time to really absorb the truth of this phrase, I am ashamed and a tad worried.

When the economy “tanked,” my husband and I have been confronted with the outrageous cost of our lifestyle. We are, in U.S. terms, broke. We owe more on credit cards than we should. We spend more than we make. We indulge our wants and assume our needs will be met. We take a lot for granted.

We have passed along this “comfort” lifestyle to our children who continue to have expectations of what is normal: a packed refrigerator, vacations, name-brand clothes, and plenty of heat when it’s cold and air conditioning when it’s hot. They assume the “economy” problems are for all those other people.

Basically, we’ve been skipping over this scripture for years and that may prove to be a mistake sooner than later.

In the same way that the environment cannot be turned around on a dime, our own lifestyle will not change overnight either. We must make a conscious decision to change. We must do so in agreement. And if we don’t do this willingly and soon, we may have to do so in crisis.

Forgive us. Re-align our priorities before they are re-aligned for us. Give us courage to change the way we live. Let us not be like the “rich young ruler.” [Matthew 19:16-26]

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