Give Me Neither Poverty Nor Riches

The wise man wrote: “Give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. For if I grow rich I may deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name” (Proverbs 30:8b-9, NLT).

America is truly the richest nation in the world, indeed the richest nation ever. Yet the gap between rich and poor increases every year in this land of abundance. But if we are such a rich nation, and most of you who read this blog are relatively rich in comparison to everyone else in the world, why is it that so many of us are still in need of more money?

Most of you would say, with me, “God provides for all my needs and then much more.” Yet we still want/need more. ACT 3 is running behind financially and I sometimes still worry about that more than I should. I want to give more to my church and to other worthwhile missions and people but I am making far less these days and cannot give as much as I did in 2008. Simply put, worries about money are a part of my life and are for almost all of us, at least to some extent.

What does true faith say to this kind of anxiety?

First, quite a few great Christians have lived in poverty, something you hardly ever hear from the American church. Joseph and Mary were poor, as was Jesus of Nazareth, our Lord and Savior. When the eternal Word became flesh he became poor in human flesh in every possible way. Have you ever thought about this question? Who could have used the excuse of Jesus meeting their financial needs as their basis for following him in the flesh? And most of those Jesus called to follow him in his lifetime were poor. (There are some amazing exceptions too, such as his friends Lazarus, Mary and Martha who likely provided a loving “home” for him on many occasions between journeys here and there.)

bosco I am reminded of the life of St. John Bosco, an Italian priest who devoted his life to caring for delinquent boys. I saw the incredible story of John Bosco in a film titled Saint John Bosco: Mission to Love, a few months ago. It is one of the better Christian biographies that I have seen on modern film.  Even with the help of wealthy benefactors John Bosco never seemed to have enough. But John Bosco refused to worry. When he received warnings of impending financial disaster he smiled and answered, “God will provide.” Rather than winning the admiration of multitudes for his great faith and amazing work his trust caused many to actually doubt his true godliness. His apostolic mission touched the common person and he lived in faith and love.

God does not want you to worry about money either. But if you have any difficulties with money, as most of us do, then this may be one way he teaches you to trust him all the more. It may also be a means to teach you how to give even more generously. I have found this to be true time and time again. The Lord does provide but first and foremost he asks that you actively trust him.

“Nothing makes us so prosperous in this world as to give alms,” said St. Francis de Sales.

St. Paul of the Cross advises: “When you need something, take heart and cry out to the Lord. But remain in peace in the will of God without the least anxiety.”

I’m not sure about you but I need that kind of counsel. And I need to stop watching the markets, the mission budget of ACT 3 and my own personal (and health) needs so intently.

I love the bumper sticker I recently read about: “If you love Jesus, tithe! Any fool can honk!”

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