By Ben Mwine:
One of the questions that has been asked for countless ages in many different forms but still lingers to this day is this: Is it possible to be rich and clean? Can one get wealthy without getting their hands dirty? Is money evil?
Those are just a few of the variations in which this age old conundrum presents itself. So in this very capitalistic world, have we managed to get closer to answering this riddle? Well, I am learning that this riddle might actually always have been a rhetoric one.
Any of the bible reading folk among you will be well acquainted with the story of the young rich man whom Jesus told to sell all his possessions and come follow him if he wanted to get eternal life. Interestingly it wasn't the first thing Jesus asked him to do. It's an interesting conversation that would suit you well to delve into in Mathew 19:16-26.
In essence the young rich man decided he'd rather be rich than get eternal life. Stupid, no? Of course! But then again aren't we all? How many of us would be willing to quit our jobs to go and volunteer in a deep remote village as a missionary for life?
Here are my thoughts on what this story teaches and what I'm learning from it especially as one who has been preparing to come into a decent fortune.
For starters, I get the impression that if the young man had a lot less wealth, he'd have had no problem giving it away. But he couldn't do what was asked of him because we read that “he walked away sad, because he had great wealth”. This young man measured his life pretty much by what he owned. Put in another way, he worshipped his wealth, pretty much like most “loaded” people we know. So it would appear that asking him to give up his wealth was tantamount to asking a Christian to denounce his faith.
Aren't you greatly disturbed by the lengths people go to these days to try and amass wealth? How many young ladies will “do” whatever it takes or rather “whomever” it takes to get that promotion? We have the great pre-nup that has been handed to us by the Americans; government officials stealing money meant to treat children dying of malaria; heck, someone even tried to kill me recently so he could take one of my cars.
But is it all worth it? Do these people ever really enjoy this money? Is money that much of a big deal? If it was then why does Japan have the highest rates of suicides? And right alongside it our friends in Hollywood who are habitual drug users? And how come we don't learn?
Strangely though, I believe it is possible to get wealthy and still sleep at night. We are all familiar with the story of Job, one of the richest men of his day and yet very devout and faithful to God. Satan alludes to God that Job's blessings are the reason why Job is a “nice guy”. God knew better and let Satan take everything away, including Job's kids; we know how that story ends. Turns out Job's faith was solid, he didn't measure his life through what he had. Abraham is another example, probably the richest man of his day, and yet considered a friend of God.
I think it all comes down to the state of our hearts. And many of us don't prepare ourselves for it, which would probably explain why a big number of lottery winners commit suicide or just go crazy. We don't build our foundations properly so when the money comes, it finds us unprepared and takes over, usually with devastating consequences.
A story is told in Uganda of a minister who went to one of the churches and asked the leaders there to recommend young people to work in the tax body because the corruption had become too much and they needed “straight” people to help curb the rot. A few years later, the minister came back to the church leadership disappointed that the people he was given were no better than their predecessors! What went wrong? I guess he hadn't figured out just how powerful money could be as indeed are many church leaders who end up focusing more on how much giving is coming in as opposed to how many souls they have won; sound familiar?
So then what to do? First, remember that a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. Stop measuring yourself by what you have or don't have. It will save you a lot of grief
Secondly, count your blessings and be content with what you have. There are a lot of people who would kill to be where you are.
Third, I do believe in the bible verse that says the blessing of the Lord makes rich and adds no sorrow (Proverbs 10:22) and “The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep.” (Eccl 5:12). So whatever you do, trust in God and know that he will provide for you according to his will.
Then, give as much as you can. As it is written, it is indeed more blessed to give than to receive. I can testify to this, and I keep praying that God will enable me to be more of a blessing to others every day, which I am sure he will do because it is his word. And in the process, I also know that he will allow me to spoil myself a little so don't be surprised to see pictures of me in a brand new Jaguar!
Last but not least, don't mess with God's money. I know there's a lot of debate about tithe, but the most important thing is that it is something that should be borne of a heart of gratitude and thus leave no room for debate. Sure, we all know that giving back 10% is easy when the 10% is just $50, but when it is $5000, it becomes a little trickier if you're not sure of yourself, doesn't it? Which is why it is better for you to build it into your life and make it a non negotiable.
I pray that you prepare and guard your heart against greed and selfishness so that the Lord blesses you and makes you a blessing.
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