Monday, October 8, 2012

How to Deal with Wealth


When can we say we are rich? Most of us in the United States are rich compared to peoples in most of the world. The basic way to think of being rich is having more resources that you need to support the basic needs of life. A third world development agency that I am familiar with, Sarvodaya in Sri Lanka, identified the following ten basic human needs for all individuals in a just society.
1. Clean environment
2. Adequate supply of water
3. Clothing
4. Nutritious food
5. Shelter
6. Health care
7. Communication
8. Fuel and lighting (Energy)
9. Access to education
10. Cultural and spiritual engagement
Many of us have these needs met and have much more. We are the rich. If we find ourselves wealthy in this way how are we to act?

Metropolitan Gregory of St. Petersburg gives us some direction.  He writes:
Never think as many foolish people among the rich do, that you owe your wealth to your intelligence, cleverness or your energy. Although you, perhaps are really intelligent, clever, and energetic, never attribute the acquisition of your wealth only to these attributes; for consider: who gave you your intelligence? Who gave you health and strength, so you can work? Who blesses your labors with the successes you desire, while many others no less intelligent and hardworking than you are hardly able to get their daily bread?...Remember the word of the Spirit of God, "The Lord...maketh rich." (1 Kings 2:7).
We must be ever thankful for what we have that allows us to engage in luxuries most cannot enjoy.  We need to always be humble about our fortunate situation and not forget that all is a gift from God. We need to offer our thanks to Him for our good fortune. Probably the biggest issue is to not let our wealth became an obsession so that we become a slave to maintaining it or increasing it.  If we do, our heart becomes corrupted.  We will live in fear that God will take this away from us so we become psychologically and physically burdened by our attachment to wealth.

Metropolitan Gregory says,
Jesus Christ says that wealth can be very perilous for the soul: "A rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heave (Matt 19:23), and "they that will be rich fall into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition, and the holy Apostle says (1 Tim 6:9)
Metropolitan Gregory also give those who are rich advice about prayer.
When you pray, never in your prayer ask the Lord God for permanent continuation of your earthly plenty, and expecially do not ask for increase of wealth.
If we who are wealthy always remember that our situation is a blessing that comes from God, then we can retain humility and recognize the proper ways to use this abundance for the work of God. We need to search our heart for why He has blessed us with great wealth and care for it as a steward of God's kingdom. We should pray to be guided in the proper use of our wealth according to His will. God expects those blessed with wealth to help others to attain these ten basic human needs that we take for granted.

If you consider yourself to be blessed with the above basic human needs, read the story of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-26) and reflect on your responsibilities based on the blessings you have been given.

I must admit, this has been a continual struggle for me throughout my own life.

Reference: How to Live a Holy Life, pp 46-47

4 comments:

  1. Deacon Charles,

    Would you say that personal or systematic prejudices against the poor are traces of remnant pride about our own wealth?

    The social acceptability of class prejudice and the traces of it i find in my own life all the time really disturb me. But it doesn't seem like many religious people say much about it let alone condemn it.

    Best,

    --guy

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  2. Same for me, father, same for me...

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  3. Guy, I think what you say may be true but we cannot judge. Pride is the most basic sin that keeps us from a loving relationship with God and others.

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    1. I agree. Pride gives birth to all sinful desires. Good thoughts. Thank you for sharing.

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