The Bible gives us some principles, facts, and instructions that help us to embrace a rightful desire to pursue personal peace and affluence, while at the same time giving us a perspective that allows us to maintain a proper balance and not make these things our idols.
Idea #1: You Are Small, No Matter What Status You Reach
Whatever your status may be in terms of affluence, don't think it entitles you to different treatment. Too often we hang onto our social status as a symbol that sets us appart from others. Before long we become tempted to objectify and reduce other humans to mere objects that exist in our attention merely to meet our needs. This is so opposite what the Bible tells us as to how we should deal with our neighbours.
God sticks up for the disadvantaged ones. In fact, the Bible reveals that God has a special preoccupation with defending and honoring those who fall low on the "social ladder" whether through disadvanage of birth or in other regards.
If we put ourselves above them, we are setting ourselves at odds with God. He will execute justice, and we are acting unwisely if we are so proud as to exalt ourself above others.
"For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt." (Deuteronomy 10:17-19)
“If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother" (Deutoronomy 15:7)
"The rich and the poor meet together; the Lord is the maker of them all." (Proverbs 22:2)
The weak and beggardly status of all humans before God is a great equaliser. If we pretend this is not so, we are fighting a losing battle and will eventually be humbled. But above and beyond just being equal, we need to reach out to others and help them as needs arise.
Idea #2: It Is Easier to Lose Riches Than It Is To Earn Them
The effort you put into "personal kingdom building" will not necessarily preserve your wealth long term. There is a Proverb which always fascinated me:
"Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven." (Proverbs 23:4-5)
This Proverb can not rightfully seen to be discouraging hard work, as the Bible is full of commands and encouragements to be diligent about making a living. However, this Proverb DOES tell us that we need to know when to STOP. If we waste all our time trying to build a hedge around ourselves, we may soon realize that we spent all our time on something that "flies" away with wings quite freely and easily. It is kind of like a parent who toils all day to make a meal for
their family, only to discover that it is gobbled away impatiently within 5 minutes.
Idea #3: You Can Not Fully Anticipate the Future
Try as we may (and as part of our human dominion, we definately should try), we will always be humbled by the fact that we are essentially incompetent when it comes to anticipating the future.
This places us in the position of, after having taking every prudent measure of preparation, resigning to the fact that our worries for tomorrow should be limited because of our limited knowledge. We want to be proactive, but at the same must concede that our finiteness forces us to mainly be reactive.
These truths are sumarized in the Proverb: "Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring." (Proverbs 27:1) This concept is also repeated in Matthew 6:24.
We must recognize that God is sovereign, and therefore He gives and takes away." The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts." (I Samuel 2:7)
Idea #4: Your Attention Is Limited, Focus On Things That Matter in the Long Run
If we analyize our typical day, we will find that we fret and get stressed out mainly about things that don't matter in the long run. Much of our daily concern deals with things that fade away from significance within 2 or 3 days.
In Matthew 6:25-32, we have a lengthy discourse by Jesus on this. His method of teaching this concept is by outlining that there are more important things in life than the thing we usually fret about. He also shows us that simpler creatures do just fine without worrying about the things that seem to so often grab our nagging concerns. Then, in verse 33, Jesus introduces the crux of the matter. Seek the important things (the kingdom of God) and all the other details of life will work out without the need to inordinately stress yourself out about them.
Some things are for today only, and other things are forever. Which do you suppose are more worthy of your focus?
Labels: affluence, personal peace, philosophy, sociology