My first job after graduating from the University of Delaware was the Workcamp Coordinator for the Methodist Action Plan. I was a social worker who made $500 in my first summer of living in the real world. Since I couldn’t afford rent, I slept on a couch in my sister’s basement. I got hired as a part time youth director in the fall and did a series of odd jobs to survive. Financially, I was poor but spiritually I felt rich due to a number of godly relationships.
As for the rich in this world, charge them not to be proud and arrogant and contemptuous of others, nor to set their hopes on uncertain riches, but on God, Who richly and ceaselessly provides us with everything for [our] enjoyment, 1 Timothy 6:17.
While writing a teenager pastor, the apostle Paul warns Timothy of how members of his congregation will be influenced by wealth. Perhaps Paul is reflecting upon the beatitudes mentioned at the beginning of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:1-12. Jesus brings this mentality full circle in Matthew 6:33-34 as money devalues an individual’s trust in God. When wealth is used to make problems disappear, this spiritual obstacle makes many rich people poor in faith.
[Charge them] to do good, to be rich in good works, to be liberal and generous of heart, ready to share [with others], 19 In this way laying up for themselves [the riches that endure forever as] a good foundation for the future, so that they may grasp that which is life indeed, 1 Timothy 6:18-19.
The happy medium between wealth and poverty is contentment. While doing a couple of mission trips in the mountains of Appalachia, I was stunned by their thankfulness for everything they owned. Despite having next to nothing in their homes, these were the happiest Christians I have ever met. As I have transitioned from a poor teacher at a Christian school to a member of the middle class, life gets more complicated the wealthier you become. Yet, when a generous heart joins a spirit of contentment, faith places life into its proper perspective. Subsequently, rich and poor is merely a state of mind.
by Jay Mankus