“No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8.
It seems like the 2008 recession was just yesterday. It is hard to believe that it has been 8 years ago that our country was wracked by unemployment, underemployment, and mortgage-backed securities. Millions of Americans saw their fortunes fall. Futures were crowded and a new term emerged, “the one percenters” which has become a shorthand way of referring to the people who are so rich they are not impacted by downturns in the economy. Those are the people with the highest income levels. But who are the one percenters in God’s eyes?
When we compare the one percent of today against the standards of success in God’s Word, we are immediately reminded of Isaiah 55:8 which says, “”For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.” Our culture makes wealth the gold standard of success. Jesus, however, has a different standard. Jesus tells us that people’s lives are not “measured by how much you own.” (Luke 12:15). In one of his parables, Jesus identified as fools those who continually strive to accumulate more and more for themselves “but not have a rich relationship with God.” (Luke 12:16-21). Instead they tirelessly work to accumulate treasures on earth, “where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19) and where global economic crises can devastate their value. Jesus calls His followers to build up a far safer investment with a far greater return: treasures in Heaven.
Although God wants us to prosper, the acquisition of riches, the real joy in life comes from a relationship with God. Paul wrote: “You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.” (2 Corinthians. 8:9). Psalms 37:16 adds, “It is better to be godly and have little than to be evil and rich.”
The prophet Jeremiah has a message for those who count on themselves rather than count on God: “This is what the Lord says: ‘Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches. But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things. I, the Lord, have spoken!’” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)
The fact is: Wealth does not guarantee happiness, nor will it lead to the ultimate goal in life-eternal life in the Kingdom of God. What makes a man rich? “The blessing of the Lord makes a person rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.” (Proverbs 10:22).
The responsibility of proper handling what God gives us in this life is an awesome responsibility. This is why Jesus said: “And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?” (Luke16:11). Being a one percenter and having true riches is having a deep and meaningful relationship with God.
- Do you feel blessed? Why or why not? How would having more money make you feel more blessed? Or not?
- What do you generally associate with someone who’s considered rich? Do you consider yourself rich?
- Do you believe everything you own is in some way a gift from God?
- From what you know about God, what would God have you do with your surplus of goods, money, or time?