Tuesday, January 27, 2015

If Britain were a U.S. state...

...it would be the second poorest of the nation.

Let that sink in. Britain isn't exactly a Third World country. Even in this era of income disparity, an issue being identified by politicians on both sides of the aisle, the United States is incredibly wealthy by both world and historical standards and most Americans derive some benefit from that wealth. We still have a large, if embattled, middle class.

Spiritually, wealth can be an enormous challenge, often amping up selfishness, diminishing compassion, and contributing to a sense of entitlement.

Biblically, money is not the root of all evil. It's the love of money that's a problem: "...the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs" (1 Timothy 6:10).

I have seen more marriages--and the love and devotion in them--killed by one or both spouses' love of money than by adultery.

I have seen many friendships ruined, many siblings alienated from each other, all because of money.

The call from God is to see our money and our possessions as gifts to be used to God's glory. First Corinthians 4:7 asks, "...what do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?" And Ephesians 4:28 says to the reformed thieves in the first century church in Ephesus: "Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need." This tells us that the function of wealth is to be useful to others, not to be an idol in control of our motives and aspirations. 

Jesus teaches us, in the Lord's Prayer, to ask for "our daily bread." In The Small Catechism, Martin Luther defines the meaning of this prayer petition: "God gives daily bread, even without our prayer, to all wicked men; but we pray in this petition that He would lead us to know it, and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving." God supplies the world's inhabitants with more than enough of what they need; the problem is that we don't like to share what God supplies.

To have a life with God and a life of significance, we need to hold on loosely to the things of this world and hold on tightly to Jesus Christ. This is one way to live out Jesus' command that we love God and love our neighbor. (HT: Eric Swensson)

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