So is wealth a bad thing?
Let’s reconsider Brother KP’s statement from his book Revolution in World Missions. He wrote, “God did not shower such great blessing on this nation for the Christians to live in extravagance, self-indulgence, and spiritual weakness.”
Material possessions in and of themselves are neither bad nor good. In the Parable of the Talents we discussed yesterday (Matthew 25) we see that the master gives different amounts of his possessions to his servants: to some he entrusts huge quantities of gold while others are made stewards over considerably less. And in the Old Testament Law we’re told that God Himself is the one who gives us the ability to produce wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18).
So unless your wealth has been gained by immoral methods, such as on the backs of child laborers in the developing world or through unethical business practices, then we should believe that what we have, however much or however little it seems, is God’s provision for us. It would be wrong for us to despise God’s blessings in our lives over some false sense of guilt.
I think when we consider Yohannan’s judgment of American excess in light of Scripture, we see that wealth itself is not the problem. The problem is what we do with it. If God distributes His possessions to us with the expectation that we will be good stewards of it all on His behalf, then what we have is not intended solely to satisfy us. It is not intended to provide a life of luxury and comfort for ourselves alone. Our responsibility is to find a way to redeem it for the Kingdom.
That car in your driveway, how might it be a blessing to people besides you?
How might you serve someone with your computer or iPhone?
What about your house? Your job? Your family and friendships? Your barbecue??
I think the point of Yohannan’s proclamation wasn’t that Americans are bad people for having been blessed with so much. I think the lesson here is that generosity begins with contentment. As long as we harbor discontentment through comparing ourselves to others or believing the lie that somehow we “deserve” more, we will never be the generous people we were meant to be. No one on earth has the capacity to be generous like you and me. But it will never happen with discontent hearts.
Questions for further thought
When you look around your life, are you thankful or are you disappointed by your possessions?
When you look around your life, do you take pride for all you have provided for yourself and your family? Or do you recognize that everything you have comes from the hand of God?
To what extent are you striving for more? What’s motivating you to do so?
Lord we are grateful that you have met our needs and provided so much more. Teach us to be content with less and to be generous to others. Remind us that all we have comes from you. And protect us from the rat race of always striving for more. With thankful hearts we pray, amen.