Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Who Wants to be Rich Anyway?

I want to talk more about this list I referred to last time (which, by the way, seems to have had its spelling errors cleaned up, thank goodness) . . . but I need to make something clear. In offering this list for discussion, I don't mean to imply a causation relationship in all these items (although I won't speak for the list-maker). Loving to read is not a cause of wealth. But if the statistics are accurate, the two seems to be at least correlated and I'm curious as to why. 

If it's true that dramatically more wealthy people than poor people enjoy reading, why is that? Does a love for reading give you an edge that helps you succeed financially (as I suggest may be possible)? Does a distaste for reading mean you spend more time in other activities that lend themselves less to financially beneficial skills and behavior? Is it as simple as poor readers struggle in school and therefore can't get good jobs? I don't know. I don't think it's as simple as that.
In addition, I don't present this list as a prescriptive or even judgmental thing (again, however, I won't speak for the list-maker). When I said the wealthy and the poor seem to have different mindsets, it doesn't necessarily follow that one is “right” and one is “wrong”. In fact, there are aspects of the “wealthy mindset” (if there is one) that I would say are decidedly unrighteous.
There is, in fact, a case to be made against wealth.  Proverbs says, "Give me neither poverty nor 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 dishonor the name of my God."  Although yes, the Bible shows God offering his people wealth as a reward for their obedience, it is always wealth to be used as a testimony to who He is (in the Old Testament) or to build up a people to build His Kingdom (in the New). Scripture is clear about how money -- either the abundance of it or the extreme lack of it -- can become a snare that pulls us away from God, the only thing we can truly possess in this life.
For my husband and I, money is first and foremost about security.  I'm not going to say we don't enjoy the leisure and luxuries that our comfortable financial state offers us, but that's not what motivates us to earn and save.  My father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease when I was twelve.  He retired when I was fourteen and was in a nursing home by my first year of marriage when I was twenty-one.  Then he ended up out-living my mother by a year, passing away when I was thirty-two.  He suffered with Alzheimer's for twenty-one years, and during those twenty-one years, my mother used the money he had systematically saved and invested over the years to live on and to pay for his expensive care.  I know the importance of saving for a rainy day.
But for all the wisdom there is in saving money and being prepared for an unknown future, I find that this security we think we've created for ourselves also hinders us spiritually.  It keeps us from ever being in a place where God simply has to come through for us or we are sunk . . . and we therefore don't ever have the faith-building benefits of seeing God comes through for us. 
"If I have put my trust in gold or said to pure gold, 'You are my security,' if I have rejoiced over my great wealth, the fortune my hands had gained... then these also would be sins to be judged, for I would have been unfaithful to God on high." (Job 21)
As I said, the actions of the wealthy are not necessarily those to be emulated.  But then neither are the actions of the poor.  I present this list merely as something to analyze and learn from . . . to learn about the nature of people and how our behaviors and thought processes affect our life situations.
And I'll do more of that analysis next time.  (Still hoping to verify where these stats came from . . . )

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