Lately at Sunday School, the pulpit, normal conversation … discussions about the rich have been more frequent than usual. Most of the conversations have been about the evils of wealth and the scriptures that talk about how hard it is for a rich man to get into heaven.
In all of these discussions, no one talking about the wealthy considers themselves to be wealthy. Wealth is relative. Someone who has more than us, is wealthy. Someone who has less is not. And it almost nearly follows that someone who has more than us is evil and someone who is “poor” is more righteous.
When you think about who the rich are, you might consider that over 50% of the world lives on less than $2.50 a day. Over 80% live on less than $10 a day. Things like indoor plumbing, electricity, elementary school, and clean water are reserved for the world’s top income earners.
At our house we also have the internet, a washer and dryer, central air, a piano, and a car. I’m thinking we might be part of the wealthy. The fact that our budget discussions include whether we can afford music lessons and school tuition—not if we know where our next meal will come from, seals it. You might as well stamp “filthy rich” on my forehead.
I didn’t know the rich young ruler personally, but I’m guessing if you put his possessions and mine side by side, I’d have more stuff. He went away sorrowing because he didn’t realize that all his stuff really wasn’t his. It was God’s. God gave him a large share to manage for Him and when He asked to be able to use it, the young man couldn’t let go. Christ’s point was that no one can keep all the commandments. No one can earn his own salvation, it’s not humanly possible alone. It takes God. It really wasn’t a discussion about the evils of wealth at all–that was an example of the many ways we can stumble.
Teaching against wealth building is a dangerous thing. The most reliable way to build wealth is to manage money properly: Avoid debt, live on less than you make, save monthly, invest conservatively. Building wealth requires hard work, patience, self-control, humility, self-denial, sacrifice. These are all things we should have in our lives.
It is never more righteous to be a HOT IRRESPONSIBLE MESS with our money.
When we have wealth we can DO great things with it. We can give, fund missionaries, build relief shelters, support adoptions…anything! Wealth gives choices.
Because we live in one of the wealthiest nations on the planet, we are likely to have some rich people discussions. Such as: Should I buy organic? How can I afford supplements? How do you budget for college? Does cleaning with vinegar really work? Understand that someone who doesn’t know where their next meal would come from would find these discussions ludicrous. It would be even more shocking how we can tear each other down over things like homeschooling, gluten, chevron, and high fructose corn syrup.
There may be times in our financial journey that our income barely covers our basic needs–shelter, food, clothing. In order to make progress we have to get a little crazy and do without some “necessities” like heat, toilet paper, organic food, and paleo ingredients. In the scheme of things, we’ll still be living better than 80% of the planet.