Monday, December 6, 2010

Being Wealthy

I have never really considered myself to be wealthy. By American standards, I'm not particularly so. I admit that I'm also not truly poor. I have food on my table consistently and can replace my old clothes with new ones as needed. But I also don't have ability or the means to spend money freely on unnecessary things. I don't remodel my home because I'm tired of the old style and I don't have to have the latest techno gadget. Nor could I afford it even if I wanted it.

On Sunday our home group was discussing 1 Timothy 6:6-11 and 17-19. Someone commented that most of us tend to read these verses and think of others whom we know, people whom we considered to be really wealthy. These verses are directed at those people, not at us. Most of us, at least Americans, don't really think of ourselves as wealthy. We're just average people, just getting by, right? I would include myself in that category. As I said, I don't consider myself wealthy.

But the truth is that we need to read these verses with ourselves in mind, for we are the wealthy of the earth. If you are reading this blog, it means you have access to the internet, which already puts you among the elite of the globe. (Yes, I realize that internet access is rapidly expanding, but it still remains a luxury of those who have some measure of wealth in order to afford that access.) We Americans, along with all other Western and economically-advanced nations, are wealthy, even those of us who don't think we are. So when we read a verse that says "Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud..." we need to think first and foremost of ourselves.

"But," you may protest, "I'm really not that wealthy." Compared to the majority of the world's people you are. I have friends around the world who struggle to get by on $200-300 a month and consider themselves fortunate if they can make that much. For the math challenged, that comes to $2400-3600 ANNUALLY. Most Americans make more than that in a month. Admittedly the cost of living differs from one place to another, but I can assure you that it is tough to live on $200 a month anywhere. And there are certainly people making much less than that--a lot of them. (For lots of details on this, check out this website.)

So stop and think about what Paul writes to Timothy and then think about your own use of the wealth God has given you. Ultimately we are accountable to him for the wealth he has given us. I for one want to strive increasingly to live according to Paul's admonition in verse 18, that I would use my money to do good, to be generous to those in need and to readily share with others. I want to stop trying to excuse myself on the basis that "I'm not wealthy" because, in fact, I really am.