Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Being One of the Richest People in the World

Then He said to them, "Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions." And He told them a parable, saying, "The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?' Then he said, 'This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry."' But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?' So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." And He said to His disciples, "For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. (Luke 12:15-22 NASB)

In the previous post, we looked at the foolish man's response to wealth. "Tear the barns down! Build back bigger and better! More! More!" This rich man counted his money and said to himself, (Leanna Paraphrase) "This is enough money to last me as long as I live, even if I live a long time." 

The foolish rich man might have been pleased with his approach to wealth, but God wasn't. Before we look at what God said to the man, let's look at wealth around the world. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that millions of dollars are required for wealth. There are mega-wealthy people, but wealth requires less than you think. It's all a matter of perspective.

I've spent some time this morning reviewing data about world wealth. The numbers might surprise you. According to Gallup, the median annual household income worldwide is $9,733. (or $1,225 depending on what source you read. Regardless, it's much lower than most of us in this country have.) 

The median annual household income in Liberia is $781 with an annual median per capita income of $118. In Rwanda, the median annual household income is $1101; median annual per capita is $235. (1) Not much is it? 

Think about being limited to that amount of money for an entire year. My income looks outrageously extravagant in comparison, and yours probably does, too.

According to Daily Mail, nearly half of the world's richest people live in the United States. To make it into the "wealthiest people in the world category" requires an after tax income of $34,000.(2)  

Why do these numbers matter? Perspective. When our view of wealth is the uber-rich of the world, who fly in personal jets, wear designer clothes, and feast on champagne and caviar, we lose the understanding of the blessings God has given us. 

We are among the most blessed people in the world. We are among the richest people in the world. We serve a God who owns it all. The only appropriate response is deep, consuming gratitude for His great generosity to us.

Years ago, I was worried about my finances and the future. I found a passage of Scripture that changed both my attitude about money and my life. 

"Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving And pay your vows to the Most High; Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me." (Psalms 50:14-15 NASB)

When I'm concerned about something (not just finances, but anything), I offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving. I consider giving thanks when I'm worried a sacrifice, because all I want to do is whine to God about my need for Him to solve my problem. 

What I've found is that giving thanks begets gratitude. As I move through my life, house, and across my property, giving thanks for the things God has already given me, I am overwhelmed by the breadth of blessing I have received. I find myself giving thanks nonstop because that's how God has blessed me. Nonstop.

Do you want to know what happens after a little sacrificial thanksgiving? I find myself saying, "I love you, Lord," over and over. Because I do. LOVE is the only appropriate response to kind of extravagance God has shown to us.

Just yesterday, I needed a tall person to help me with several tasks I couldn't do for myself. A light bulb on my highest ceiling needed to be replaced. Several panels on the greenhouse roof had blown out in a storm and needed to be secured before the next rain (which turned out to be last night). 

Yesterday morning, I prayed that God would send me a tall person. I have laughed off and on since I received a text from someone who wanted a quick job for cash saying, "Do you need any work done? I have one hour and a tall boy who will work, too." That tall boy was a gift from God and the work I desperately needed done was quickly accomplished. 

The text about the tall boy was one more assurance that God is in control and concerned about even the tiniest details of my life. I am extravagantly blessed. And you are, too.

For today, let's stop grumbling about all that's wrong in our country and all that is evil in our culture. Let's focus on the generosity of our sweet God who has given us far more than we deserve. Let's give thanks as a sacrifice and keep giving thanks until we are so overwhelmed with gratitude that we can't stop. 

To live as those who are redeemed, we need to understand the gift we have been given. For today, let's begin by thanking God for His gift of salvation, for the people in our lives, for the safety of home and hearth, for health. Then, walk through every room of your home. Touch every item. Thank God for it. 

Everything we have, tangible and intangible, is a gift from God. Let's be sure to give Him thanks. It will change our lives. It might just change the world around us, too.

(1) http://www.gallup.com/poll/166211/worldwide-median-household-income-000.aspx