In our blessed, middle-class existence we can go weeks and even years without pondering what wealth and poverty really mean. We are comfortably in the middle. We could always do with a little more, but also know we are better of than most.
In the past few weeks, I have been bombarded by the generosity of those around me in many ways. Most prevalently in the way of free clothes. Infant, toddler and kids clothes of all sizes, styles and colors. Winter jackets. Snow boots. Mittens. Gloves. All gifted freely to me.
This, surprisingly, has got me thinking about wealth and poverty. And just how those two, rather abstract concepts are measured.
Poverty is defined as:
1. The state of being poor; lack of the means of providing material needs or comforts.
2. Deficiency in amount; scantiness: "the poverty of feeling that reduced her soul" (Scott Turow).
3. Unproductiveness; infertility: the poverty of the soil.
4. Renunciation made by a member of a religious order of the right to own property.
While wealth is described as:
1. An abundance of valuable material possessions or resources; riches.
2. The state of being rich; affluence.
2. All goods and resources having value in terms of exchange or use.
3. A great amount; a profusion: a wealth of advice.
Yes, money is involved. Deeply involved. But money is far from the only issue. Wealth can be measured as our goods and resources having value. A good amount... of anything, even of advice, or wisdom or knowledge.
I know many people who are struggling to pay their mortgage, but nonetheless will never be homeless. because they have a good amount of friends who will take them in. They are wealthy. Stuggling to get from point A to B but are never truly stranded, as friend and a ride are only a phone call away. They are wealthy. And me, who 3 months ago had ZERO children items, now has a garage filled, ready and waiting for children. I am wealthy.
I am wealthy. Wealthy in family. In friends. In fellowship. In resilience. In cooping skills. In almost every way.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, "Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!"
Yet many are poor, they are in poverty. They can't pay their mortgage, they are evicted. They are in poverty. They have no transportation. They stay home. They are in poverty.
What is my responsibility in that?
Luke 12:48, "When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required."