‘Tis the season when all are called upon to give a little – or maybe a lot. Charitable organizations plead with us to be generous and help them in their ministries. We are reminded that Americans are "wealthy" and we should help those who are "poor." I do enjoy participating in giving year-round, and it’s fun this time of year to pick a couple of ways to incorporate giving into our family celebrations. It also makes me stop and wonder, though, what constitutes the true definition of poverty and wealth?
I do not consider myself to be financially wealthy. In fact, much of my life, both before and after marriage, has been lived on an income that would be considered at or below the poverty level by US economic standards. Yet I have never been without adequate shelter nor have I gone without a meal or without having my needs met. So, I do not believe myself to be poor either.
We hear people whose income is three or four times larger than our own complain about being financially tight. We hear others whose income is lower than ours express satisfaction with what they have. So, who is rich and who is poor?
When I think of poverty and wealth, I cannot help but think of George Mueller. If you have never read a biography of this amazing man, I highly recommend you do so. Later this school year, I will be reading the Christian Heroes: Then and Now biography (link for more information) to Angela and Steven. I read it several years ago to Olivia and Angela, and I was blown away. Had you walked alongside this incredible man through his life, you never would have called him wealthy. He always had just what he needed, sometimes just for that day. Yet, through the course of his lifetime (in the 1800’s), nearly a million and a half pounds passed through his hands! That money ran his orphanage, supplied the needs for schools and Sunday schools, provided for the printing and distributing of thousands of Bibles, and supported missionaries. Such an amazing wealth!
I must admit, compared to the standard of this amazing man, I am poor. It’s easy to say I trust God’s provision when I have a regular paycheck coming my way! I cannot imagine living my whole life as George Mueller did, relying on God’s daily provision rather than a paycheck. Part of me would love to live that way, free of the burden of reliance on earthly income. The other part of me feels tired just thinking about it. Yet that is the way he lived, and wealth just poured through his fingers in support of the ministries God accomplished through him.
So, what constitutes poverty versus wealth? This world has no clear line dividing one from the other. It varies based on where you live and what you are accustomed to. God has a clear definition, though. Those who trust in Him on a daily basis are wealthy. Those who allow His wealth to flow through their hands for His glory and for the furtherance of His will. Those people are truly wealthy.