Thursday, November 8

Real Wealth

Some people choose wealth, and achieve it. They make it their one goal in life, and whatever they do becomes an expression of that desire. Their choice of friends, if they go to church they find the one with the best connections,, etc. Sometimes they succeed, and find themselves climbing that slope which they expect to bring them to great happiness. The farther up they go the more the scene changes from being somewhat singled out in the crowd as the one with “ambition,” to being singled out by the crowd as the one with nothing but his ambition. No longer in the crowd, because the crowd “had nothing to offer,” there is now a lonely figure, alone, struggling up the slope toward “great happiness.” The many stories of those who have reached that peak, and found it dry and barren, have little effect in getting past their mantra of “but I’m different.”

On the other hand, we might observe that some choose poverty. For the sake of a simple life, and being accessible to one’s friends, poverty has its advantages. The main drawback is that, while the rich person has a measure of control over how much money they have the poor really doesn’t. And, for the most part, the rich is rich by choice, but the poor one is seldom poor by choice. Those that are, and honestly so, find that the way up is a lot longer than the way down. That probably explains the fellow that history just calls, “the Rich Young Ruler,” who wanted to be Jesus’ disciple. Jesus required of him the one thing he was most afraid to lose: Control. Likely all his wealth was from one of two sources. Either it was inherited, or it was made with wealth that was. To give it all up would mean staking his whole life on the teachings of this Rabbi- not just the intellectual or contemplative components, but down to how the next meal was coming. To choose poverty is to relinquish control, which is not a bad thing if it’s the Lord to Whom we relinquish. To his credit, and the Lord’s happiness and great glory, though the young lad turned back at that time, Church tradition tells us that the young man who was following Jesus from the edge of the group, wearing only one garment, was the same who had, “had great riches.”

There is a verse in Proverbs which tends to get translated two different ways. It is often read as a man ignoring the counsel of friends to do as he pleased. The other, as found in the King James and not many others, gives a picture of one forsaking all pleasures and distractions to seek “all wisdom.” Not being a Hebrew scholar I would have to consider that the difference would have to be more how it is read than how it was written. If we follow the Calvinist view that sin is the supreme force in this world, then the pessimistic reading would support that, The Bible says that, “..where sin abounds, grace that much more abounds,” and that would make God’s grace the greater, so I can thank the Lord for the inspiration,

“Through desire a man, having separated himself, mixeth and intermingleth with all wisdom (Pv. 18:1)”

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