Riches or Poverty - So What?
For reading & meditation - Philippians 4:4-13
"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any ... situation ..." (v. 12)
Here is another step that can move us from financial bondage to financial freedom. Recognize that you are only free when you are free to use either poverty or plenty. There are two ways in which men and women try to defend themselves against financial disaster. One is by saving as much as possible in an attempt to avert it. The other is by renouncing money or material things entirely in order to be free from their clutches. Both methods have disadvantages. The first, because it can cause miserliness and anxiety, and tends to make a person as metallic as the coins they seek to amass. The second, because it seeks to get rid of the difficulty by washing one's hands of it entirely. In each case, there is a bondage - one is a bondage to material things, the other a bondage to poverty. The man who is free to use plenty only is bound by that, while the man who is free to use poverty only is also bound. They are both bound. But the person who, like Paul in the text before us today, has "learned the secret of being content ... whether living in plenty or in want" is free, really free. While waiting for a train in India, a missionary got into a conversation with a high-caste Indian. "Are you traveling on the next train?" the missionary asked. "No," he replied, "that train has only third-class carriages. It's all right for you, because you are a Christian. Third class doesn't degrade you and first class doesn't exalt you. You are above these distinctions, but I have to observe them." Lifted above all distinctions!
O Father, what a way to live - lifted above all distinctions. Plenty doesn't entangle my spirit, and poverty doesn't break it. No matter how I have lived in the past - this is how I want to live in the future. Help me, dear Lord. Amen.
For Further Study
1. Where does favoritism come from?
2. What does James say about selfish living?