When I was growing up, my parents used to do the English ‘football pools’ every week. They paid a small amount of money and filled in a chart of what they thought the scores would be in the upcoming football matches around the country. It was a form of gambling which many people hoped might help them to win a large amount of money.
I would fantasise about what it would be like to ‘win the pools’ and be rich. My mother was so careful to save money that if I ever wanted anything from the shops she would generally say, “We can’t afford it”. But my father told me it could be a problem to win too much money, because then one had to know what to do with it all. Everybody would be trying to get some of it and the demands would be too heavy. Relationships could be ruined if one suddenly didn’t have to work to earn money like everyone else and one wouldn’t fit in. What incentive would one have to get up in the morning.
Many years later, on the other side of the world, in South Africa, I saw poverty as I had never seen it in England. Anything one wanted to throw away wasn’t put in the dustbin, but put outside the garden wall and left for the poor to help themselves. We were now in the category of the rich. Some people didn’t sleep in beds, but on the floor. They didn’t have shoes on their feet and were usually illiterate. Contrary to my expectations, these people seemed extremely happy, as they went about singing all day long. I thought poverty would have made them miserable.
It is interesting to read what St Paul says in his letter to Timothy. He described the love of money as ‘a root of all kinds of evils’, because craving for money to buy material things could lead to senseless and harmful desires and wandering away from the faith. ‘But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content’.
He also wrote that Christian believers who are rich have a special responsibility. ‘As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life’ (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
Whether we are considered rich or poor, as followers of Jesus Christ, we are to avoid making money and material goods our idols, allowing them to distract us from ‘that which is truly life’. We are to set our hope on God our Father ‘who richly provides us with everything to enjoy’. Jesus said He had come that we might have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10).
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to fix our eyes on You and trust in You. You are the giver of life and want us to seek Your Kingdom first and Your righteousness. You promise to richly provide for us everything to enjoy. May we not take all that You provide for granted and give us thankful hearts. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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