Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Stupid Rich Men

Gave a talk last week called "Stupid Rich Men" based on the parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12.) I asked the question "Are we rich fools?" and then used www.globalrichlist.com to show that every single person in the room was, globally speaking, filthy stinking rich. So, we're all rich, half way to being rich fools.

A fool, biblically, is not just a flake but someone who is morally flawed. It's a serious, negative word. The man in the parable was a fool because he thought his stuff was his, thought his wealth brought security, was a hoarder not a sharer, didn't plan ahead beyond this life, and was, in short, laying up treasure for himself without being rich toward God. When he had a bumper crop, instead of sharing he planned to tear down his barns and build bigger ones to store his surplus. It never occured to him to share with those who needed what he didn't.

For nearly 20 years my lifestyle has expanded to match my income- I've been building bigger barns. I have no doubt that I qualify as "rich" and I'm trying hard not to be a rich fool, but I haven't quite figured out how to do that.

I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who has figured out how to live when you have more than enough to live on. How much is enough? At what point should we just start giving the surplus away? How much could we give if our lives were oriented toward giving versus accumulation?


At 8:55 p.m., Anonymous Julie Duval said...

Why are our lives oriented towards accumulation and having 'things'? I don't think it's just today's society, 'cause I see it all over history. My question is why did God wire us this way in the first place? Sure, he gave us free will, but it seems easier to stray from God's will than to obey it. My young Christian heart tells me that it's to make my effort to follow his will more sincere.

At 2:31 p.m., Blogger Daren said...

Yeah, it's certainly universal, both in time and space. I once read that no matter where you go on earth, people are satisfied with their possessions to the extent that they have more than their neighbors.

So for whatever the reason, we are naturally greedy. But the cure for greed is giving, and we can all choose to give. I know of one financial planner who instead of sending out cards or whatever to his clients at Christmas, is going to match their donations, up to $25 each, to a charity of their choice.

So maybe one way we can counter greed in us and the world at large is to give and stimulate giving in others. And since we've got free will, we can make the choice!

At 10:13 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you ever get what you really want for your birthday or at Christmas. I have been married for 29 years and have four kids. We all buy each other nice gifts even though we already have everything. I was getting depressed buying them the usual unneeded gifts at Christmas so this year I did something different and it felt great. I bought them what I want for Christmas. I bought my kids a fish farm, a bee keeping kit, fruit trees, roosters and chickens and soccer balls. Buying all those gifts felt great. I also bought them some personal things but the best gifts were these World Vision gifts given in their names.
That is a solution to us having too much. Why not at birthdays and other gift giving occassions give gifts to the poor in their name.
My greatest joy came at Christmas when my daughter gave me an envelope with her gift to me, a fish farm! That was the very same gift I had given to her.World Vision and Samaritan's Purse have great online catalogues

At 11:27 a.m., Blogger Tim said...

At what point should we just start giving the surplus away?

I think the Gospels teach that we should start giving long before we have a surplus.

And I don't think 'Give til it hurts' is good advice either. I think Jesus wants to transform us by the Spirit so that generosity is a joy to us. To ask 'How much' is to miss the point, I think.


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