"Side by Side: Rich and Poor"
September 20, 2005Email to a FriendPrint
"They sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals." Amos 2:6
Many world travelers say they know few places where the rich and the poor live in such obvious contrast as Hong Kong. The rich, more than anywhere else, stand off from the rest by their jewelry and dress. They drive Rolls Royces and drink cognac. The poor, not far away, live in boats amid abject poverty.
Utmost prosperity and grinding poverty are portrayed also in the Bible, sometimes as existing side by side. The prophet Amos speaks of the rich as stretching themselves on ivory beds and dining on choice meats while the poor are being sold for a pair of sandals.
Jesus draws attention to the rich man dressed in expensive clothes and faring luxuriously every day. At his door lies poor, sick Lazarus, clothed in rags and living from crumbs and food scraps thrown out to the dogs.
The great contrast has its roots in sin—in greed, indolence, and negligence. Many of the rich are born into wealth, while many poor are locked into poverty from generation to generation. Christianity seeks to improve life for the poor by urging the wealthy to give them food and clothes. But the difference remains. Jesus said that we would always have the poor with us. Apparently we will always have the rich with us also. Christians can improve conditions, but because of sin we cannot eradicate socio-economic problems. Private efforts in the past on this score have failed. Christianity has first of all to do with the salvation of sinners, rich or poor.
The truths of the Bible establish the basis for a hope that transcends all earthly wealth. It speaks of “riches;” these are spiritual but very real. The full enjoyment of eternal life and all that it includes awaits us in heaven. Saint Paul reminds the Corinthians how the wealth of faith came about: “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). How rich? Again, Saint Paul, “In Him [Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
PRAYER: Thank You, Lord God, for all Your blessings, especially for the gift of full forgiveness in Christ Jesus. Amen.
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