Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

10 March 2009

Give me neither Poverty nor Riches

I have been thinking about wealth lately.

Maybe because I am in the throes of deciding whether or not I will return to some capacity of paid work once the boys are both in school in a couple of years time - and at this point returning to work seems unlikely as there is plenty to do in an unpaid capacity around here. So I have been thinking about family finances a lot.

And maybe wealth has been in my thoughts as I reflect on (and start to observe in others) the effects of the economic downturn.

And maybe I just can't get this news item out of my head - the announcement that Sol Trujillo was finishing up as CEO of Telstra and then it said, "He's a person whose current wage increase is something like $13.4 million, a 14 per cent increase over last year..." Well, I just can't fathom someone earning so much that their 14% pay increase amounts to $13.4 million!!! What can anyone do with all that money?

On the weekend I was reading Psalm 49. It is a hard Psalm about the ultimate cost of storing up treasures on earth. It finishes like this:

Do not be overawed when a man grows rich,
when the splendor of his house increases;
for he will take nothing with him when he dies,
his splendor will not descend with him.
Though while he lived he counted himself blessed-
and men praise you when you prosper-
he will join the generation of his fathers,
who will never see the light of life.
A man who has riches without understanding
is like the beasts that perish.

Even though I can hardly get my head around Sol Trujillo's salary, I felt a desperate sadness for him and for people like him all over the globe, building their personal empires here on earth, empires which will ultimately amount to nothing. It is desperately sad.

But then my thoughts turned to a scripture lesson I taught last year. The lesson book said,

"Do you think you are a rich person in this world? Answer these questions in your head to see if you are one of the rich people that Jesus talks about:
  • Do you attend a school for your education?
  • Do you have more than one tap in the house you live in?
  • Do you live in a home with two or more rooms?
If you answered 'yes' to these three questions then you are richer than 90% of the people in this world."

Now I don't know where they got their 90% statistic from, but even if 60% is more accurate, it is a reminder that even if I don't go back to paid employment some time in the future, my family and I are rich. Which is making me take another look at Psalm 49, because compared with much of the world I am wealthy. And the nicely feathered nest that I call my home is my own little empire. Is my attitude towards my own wealth right?

Proverbs 30:7-9
Two things I ask of you, O LORD;
do not refuse me before I die;
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty or riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise I may have too much and disown you
And say, "Who is the LORD?"
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonour the name of my God.


Mattnbec said...

A sobering, wise word, Meredith. Amen to the Proverbs 30 quote. Thanks.


Helen said...

Its mind boggling what some CEO's get Meredith but as you said, we are the rich ones! A timely post as our stimulus money from Mr Rudd came through today, I'm going to go buy Milly a new car seat tomorrow to help stimulate the economy! :) PS - Where's your Unfornately Meredith post? I want to see the answers!

Meredith said...

Unfortunately Helen, the unfortunately Meredith post is two posts away! Watch this space. Mx