Would you rather be rich or poor? Does it matter? The wisest man ever, who happened to have great wealth, said it like this:
“Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty or riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me,lest I be full and deny you and say,” Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.” (Proverbs 30:8-9)
Solomon desired neither wealth nor poverty for both bring their own sets of problems and challenges which the King wanted to avoid.
Some have advocated poverty for those who seek the Lord. They have renounced earthly wealth and have chosen to live impoverished lives thinking that the life of the pauper is spiritually superior. And we are well acquainted with preachers of the “prosperity gospel” who call the faithful to great wealth every Sunday through television and radio.
Solomon would have none of this. He prayed that God would simply give him “the food that is needful” for life. This echoes Jesus’ prayer in Matthew 6:11 when he taught us how to pray. He said: “give us this day our daily bread.” Let us ask God for what we need – nothing more and nothing less.
The wise man indentified two problems with the extremes. For the rich, God is often forgotten as a man wraps himself in the security of his possessions. Crime and anger toward God may mark the life of the impoverished. Neither wealth nor poverty is superior and both conditions can bring sin.
Just as there are terrible dangers from extreme cold or extreme heat, there is also great danger in the extremes of materialism. Having too little is as dangerous as having too much.
Faithfulness to God and loyalty to Jesus require neither wealth nor poverty. One’s financial condition is not relevant. At the cross of Christ stood the lonely mother of Jesus. Without husband and a woman in a man’s world, she knew the fear of being destitute. Also nearby stood the wealthy such as Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews (Matthew 27:57; John 19:39). The common and the noble, the rich and the poor all stood on level ground beneath the Calvary tree.
There is room for all in the body of Christ but let us strive for the safer middle ground where our needs are meet by Jesus and where dependence or him is the normal way of life. Let us ask for our daily bread and thereby be satisfied.
So which would you prefer? Wealth? Poverty? What are your thoughts? Please leave your comments here on the blog.