Proverbs 30:7-9 “Two things I ask of you, LORD; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and show dishonor to the name of my God.” This verse clearly reveals that the happy place when it comes to money and resources is to be neither super-rich or super-poor.
We know how prone we are to be intoxicated by great wealth. On the other hand there is at least an equal amount of temptation with deep poverty. Great wealth does not always, but far too often promotes and feeds our pride, heightens our insensitivities and selfish tendencies, and bolsters the opportunity for a sordid lifestyle that can be easily accessed through an abundance of resources. We hear of magnanimous giving and planned philanthropy by some who have amassed great wealth. They are certainly an example for us to follow but on balance those who do it with the expectation of nothing in return are one in a thousand.
Deep poverty does not always, but much too often nourishes despair and desperation. Unfortunately, prisons are filled with the children of abject poverty. When we hear or meet someone who pulled themselves up by their proverbial bootstraps we applaud them, but sadly many do not even have boots or straps. They have no opportunity, little hope and an uncertain future. And possibly worse, they are in a psychological and emotional straight jacket that seriously impedes them from taking the steps to improve their situation. I know this because at one time, as a child, I was close to being one of them. I know this unhappy place.
I have encouraged our children at one time or another to be satisfied with seeking a middle or upper-middle class life: there is less temptation and stress. The middle and upper-middle is the happy place. This gives us the opportunity to have the resources to live a secure life, provide a safety net for the people we care about, and give to spiritual and charitable causes. This requires among other things hard work, ethical behavior, and the willingness to explore and take advantage of educational and training opportunities.
If we accumulate more resources than we need to enjoy a secure life we should find a way to be generous to those less fortunate. There is nothing wrong with wealth if we use it for good. Augustine who in order to show us that riches are in themselves not harmful reminded us that poor Lazarus was received into the bosom of rich Abraham. Wealth is too much without generosity and poverty is too little without hope. Lazarus had hope and Abraham had wealth. And they both had God!
Joseph C. Hutchison, Rochester Hills, Michigan 2020
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