They are the envy of everyone, born among a very privileged class, living lives that most others can only dream of. Because they are so wealthy, they never give even a fleeting thought to lacking anything they truly need. In fact, they own so much more than they need that they have trouble finding room to store all their possessions. To that end, they often discard what the average person would love to possess. And because they associate only with others who are as wealthy as them, they are generally oblivious to the teeming majority of people who live at an unimaginably lower standard.
Who are these very fortunate people? They are you, your family, your friends, and your neighbours!
If you would like to know your personal global ranking, navigate on your computer (an item owned by a minority of people) to www.globalrichlist.com.
Select your currency, type in your annual income, and you will immediately know where you stand in comparison to the rest of the world. An annual income of NZ $30,000 puts you in the top 10 percent. An annual income of NZ $45,000 puts you in the top 5 percent!
Most of us have no idea how wealthy we are compared to most of the world's people. Those whose incomes put them in the bottom 10 percent of the U.S. population are still better off than two-thirds of the world's population.
Let me see if I can help with some perspective: About nine million people will die of hunger this year. 24,447 will die of hunger today. Nearly one billion people are presently undernourished—that is about 1 in 7 of the world's people. 1.4 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water - that's 1 in 5 of the world's people.
You've Won the Lottery!
It's as if we've won the lottery, or were born into royalty. So much of our wealth is simply due to the fact that we've been born in the right place.
My intention in writing this is not to make anyone feel guilty about being born in a wealthy nation or about his or her annual income. You had no choice regarding where you were born, and there is nothing wrong with earning money, as long as God is not dishonoured through the means. My hope, however, is that you will begin to understand how wealthy you already are. Only then might you grasp the second secret to being forever rich, which is to learn contentment.
Learning to be content requires real effort, because formidable forces are at work to make us discontent. Western culture is materialistic-to the maximum. Everyone is striving for more "stuff," and we are continually bombarded with advertisements designed to make us dissatisfied with what we currently have—in order to persuade us to make a purchase.
The honest truth is that none of us need anything more than what we currently own. In fact, we could get by on much less if we were so motivated.
We would be wise to heed the words of G.K. Chesterson: "There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less."
As soon as we shift into contentment, a huge weight rolls off of our shoulders, and the future becomes instantly brighter.
You say, "If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied." You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled. - Charles H. Spurgeon
Writing to Timothy, the apostle Paul penned important words about the great value of contentment:
“But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But flee from these things, you man of God.” 1 Tim 6:6-11a.
We can't take anything with us when we leave this world, so it is foolish to pile up earthly treasures. We can, however, send those treasures ahead of us to heaven. Thus it makes perfect sense to learn to be content with as little as possible now, even if it amounts to nothing more than our most basic necessities of food and covering.
Paul's words are certainly convicting. How can we claim that we would be content with just food and covering if we're not content with all that we currently do possess, which is so much more?
Certainly, at bare minimum, we need to be content with what we already possess and carefully consider the necessity of any additional acquisitions, knowing that we have the same two choices as Paul's contemporary readers: We can lay up our treasures on earth temporarily, understanding that our ownership ends at death, or we can lay them up in heaven and enjoy "great gain" eternally.
Words to the Rich
In the very same chapter of 1 Timothy from which we've been reading, Paul did have some special words to those who were rich in his day that can help very rich folks like us today:
“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.” 1 Tim. 6:17-19
So we are faced with a choice. We can either be discontented and use our wealth to acquire more stuff for ourselves, or we can be content, using our wealth to love more people—particularly those who are lacking the most basic necessities. Choosing the latter, we demonstrate our love for God, enriching our relationship with Him.
In doing that, we become truly rich and forever rich.
Every Blessing, David
Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have;
for He Himself has said, "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you". Hebrews 13:5
From Chapter 2 of “Forever Rich: Seven Scriptural Secrets to Ultimate Financial Fulfillment” © 2012 by David Servant,
founder & director of Heaven’s Family, a ministry that serves the “least of these” in the world’s poorest nations. www.heavensfamily.org. Reproduced with permission.