You are rich. I am rich. It’s true.
When people of Malawi are asked who is rich they answer, “people who have cars.” When Americans making $30,000/year are asked how much would it take for them to feel rich, they answered, “$75,000/year.” When Americans making $75,000 were asked the same question, they said, “$100,000/year.” So it goes. Rich is relative.
So look at the whole world. The American making $34,000/year is richer than 99% of the world. The person making $70,000 is richer than 99.9% of the world. Whoa.
So we are rich. That is not bad, says pastor Troy Lewis of Steamboat Christian Center. The important thing is what we do with it.
We attended this church yesterday while on vacation in the mountains of Colorado. And we came away with a lot of food for thought.
1Timothy 6: 17-18 says, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.”
Since we are rich we are to do good and be rich in good deeds. We are to be generous and willing to share.
The pastor contrasted our keeping of cars in GARAGES and of having cars for every family member with the billions who live on less than $2/day. He changed our perspective. He said if a person can live on $2/day, then everything beyond that is not really a need, but a want. He made us realize we have every reason to be thankful and generous, willing to share. He also emphasized that we are to enjoy what God has richly provided. It is not bad to have wealth.
However, being rich has problems. It is actually harder to depend on God when we have plenty. We become pretty independent, thinking what we have is what we got for ourselves.
Also, being rich distracts us from our true priorities. He talked of the family that has so many rich-person distractions they can only make it to church once a month. After all, we have to use the boat and the cabin and the bikes and the frequent flyer miles. We have kids with soccer practice and dance lessons. Rich person distractions. Rich people’s problems.
Recently we found a long flight delayed about four hours. We missed a connection, so the whole flight took about six hours longer than it should have. While waiting, a young man reminded us that this was a real ‘first world problem.’ It put it all in perspective. We still arrived three time zones away in less than a day. We are rich.
So after church yesterday I found myself thinking how blessed I am. That led to “how could I share more of what I have?”
Like many of our friends, we are ’empty nesters.’ That means we have more house than we use. Not long ago we invited a friend of our son’s to stay with us while he worked in the area. He was able to live rent-free long enough to put a serious dent in his student debt. Could we do that again for another young person, I wondered? It would be easy for us. And yet it could really help a recent grad trying to get started.
The sermon concluded with one more problem of being rich: it brings greater responsibility. Luke 12: 48 says, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”