Monday, December 15, 2014

On Suddenly Being "Rich" And What Scripture Says About It

We are six months into life a world away from America. One of the craziest adjustments that I constantly hear mentioned by my classmates in language school is going from having a very simple, lowish income family in the US to being considered wealthy by most people here. It's a huge identity shift and lots of questions come along with it. There's all sorts of advice I hear from people about how to live and use your money, particularly in the realm of how to give when people ask for money. It seems to me that often this advice comes out of personal experience or economic beliefs rather than scripture.

Since I found myself adrift and not sure of what I should be doing, I have been studying everything I can find in the scripture in the way of perspectives on wealth, charges to the rich, instructions for charitable giving, etc. It's been good! I came about with a series of points about wealth, money, and giving that I printed out to help guide my actions and choices here, that I might reflect the character of God in this.

If you're in this situation, here's some of the passages that I'd advise praying through and thinking about how they apply to you. Some are the chapter, some are the specific verse and you should find the context. I would give you my conclusions but I don't want to be prescriptive. I think each should read and see what God says for themselves.

Mark 7:14
Mark 10:17 and on
Luke 3:8-14
Luke 6
Luke 12
Luke 16
2 Corinthians 8-9
1 Tim 6:17
2 Thessalonians 3
James 2:14
James 5:1

Here's just a few of those that stuck out most to me: 

1 Tim 6:17 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.

James 2:14
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

2 Corinthians 8:13-14
For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness.

James 5
Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you...You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence....

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