Go on. Ask yourself, are you rich? How do you answer that question?
My first guess is your natural inclination is to immediately think of what’s in your bank account. And depending on what’s in it, whether it’s growing or depleting, will depend on the way you answer the question.
Maybe your second inclination is to think of your home and all the material “things” that you have or don’t have as your measuring stick to answer the question. If you had the new SUV you’ve been eyeing, a bigger house or bigger yard, then maybe you would consider yourself rich. But you have none of these… so the answer must be, “No, I’m not rich.” Right?
We live in a culture that is materially “rich”. We have more “things” than we know what to do with. How many of us have garages stuffed full of things that we haven’t even touched for years or even decades? How many of us rent storage sheds to house our extras in?
Your third inclination when answering this question may not be one you are willing to admit but is all too common. For some of us, our immediate thoughts may actually stir up anger over our own money struggles (we sure don’t feel rich when we are living pay check to pay check) and we secretly covet the things of our neighbors. We silently complain in our minds by saying, “Geesh, they must be making a lot of money. Look at their new car.” Or, “Why can’t I have a house like that?”
In the social media crazed world that we live in, it’s very easy to compare and covet. If you are a frequent Facebook user, you know what I’m talking about. At some point, if you are honest, while scrolling through posts, you’ve thought, “If I had that…” or “Why can’t I have that?” Or “Why does she (or he) always get everything?” There are variations of such thoughts but you get the general idea.
No matter what we have, we have this desire to want more or to want what we don’t have. To top it off, our financial status and material goods have become the measuring stick to determine the success of our lives. We compare ourselves to our family, neighbors, fellow employees and church friends. We compare ourselves to the idolized celebrities of Hollywood.
But what is it to be rich? Rich in what way?
Sure, we all would love to never have to worry about money again. But is that our measuring stick if we are asked if we are rich? Do our bank account and financial security determine if we are rich?
If we are strictly talking about our finances, sure. But let’s take our focus away from money and material wealth. Let’s learn to refocus our thinking on whether we are rich, not on what’s in our bank account, but the blessings that God has graciously bestowed up on us.
Within the last 2 years I’ve had 2 grandpas pass away. My only surviving grandpa was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer earlier this year. His physical decline has occurred rapidly and as he has commented, “It’s going faster than I thought.” A big strong man, my grandpa’s always been able to use his body’s strength to accomplish life’s tasks. But he has become weak and fragile, unable to do the things he has done his entire life.
Suddenly, as life slowly starts to fade, we start to see life differently. No amount of money, no amount of new “toys”, or properties will save us from leaving this Earth. It is inevitable. And you know what? No matter how much money my grandpa has saved up in his bank account, it doesn’t matter, he’s not taking it with him when death knocks on his (or any of ours) door.
I’m not sure what my grandpa has in his bank account, but he and my grandma are rich. Not rich in what the world would define rich. Rich in that they’ve been blessed in ways that no amount of money could buy. Rich in that they have a large, close-knit family. Rich in that in this time of sickness and weakness, it is not uncommon that one of their children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren is at their house mowing, cleaning, running to doctor’s appointments, bringing food or chopping wood.
Their welcoming home was one of my favorite places to visit as a kid and still is now with my own children. Conversations, laughter and good food provide a comfortable place where you know you are always welcome at.
Rich, in family. Rich, in a marriage of 57 years. Rich, in living life to the fullest. Rich, in God’s blessings. Rich, in God’s grace. Are you rich?
Take a piece of paper and write down the ways in which you are “rich” and give thanks to God for the richness of His blessings!
And for a fun experiment, try asking 5 random people this question and take note of their responses. What does everyone say?
As you think about this question study the Scripture verses below to help you!
- Proverbs 23:4-5: Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.
- 1 Timothy 6: 17-19: Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.
- Proverbs 11:28: He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous shall flourish as the green leaf.
- Luke 8:14: The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.
- Ecclesiastes 5:10: Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.
- Proverbs 11:4: Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.
- Matthew 6:24: No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.