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Monday, August 15, 2011

What is the right amount of "stuff"?

I am generally repulsed by the teaching of the so-called “prosperity gospel” which is the other of the two extremes. I have always wondered how people in very poor countries felt when they see satellite broadcasts of preachers telling them that if they aren’t wealthy then they have too much sin in their lives; if they were truly following God they would be leading a lavish lifestyle. I find no basis in Scripture for this teaching, and in fact find Jesus teaching a message that is exactly the opposite. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor”. He commanded a rich young man to sell all of his possessions. When Christ called the twelve disciples to follow Him, He required that they leave everything behind. The Bible does not teach a gospel of prosperity but rather of earthly poverty that will be exchanged for heavenly glory. Don’t get caught in the trap of the “health and wealth” preachers. I’m not certain of their motivation, but I am certain of the devastation of their false doctrine.

As I have said before, I have no corner on the truth but I will share what I believe is the proper balance in answer to the question of, “How much is enough?” I believe if we will live humbly before God and seek to live a life that is patterned after His that we will be able to discern what the right amount of “stuff” is for us to own on this planet. We are called to care for the needs of those in poverty, to feed the hungry and give water to the thirsty. If we will make these things the top priority for the money with which we are entrusted, I think the rest will take care of itself. We should live a simple lifestyle so that we can free up as many resources as possible to devote caring for those around us. As God blesses us with more and more, it is our duty as His servants to take that money and use it in His service, for His glory. We should always think of the needs of another before our own. I see no issue with taking care of our needs; it’s when we cross from “need” to “want” that we must be on guard as to how we spend the money we have been given. (Excerpted from “Even if I Walk Alone”:
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newguy40 said...

yeah. I don't get that prosperity gospel either. Seems rather contrary to our Lord's statement about the rich man's probability of getting in to heaven. In fact, he re-emphasizes the message with the well know camel and needle eye.

Speaking only for myself. God has been incredibly merciful to me. Even in down economy I have stayed well employewd and earned well. Certainly, I am rich and wealthy in material goods. I have spent some time in contemplation on what this means for me and my salvation.
I think God has provided me with these riches and grace in order to use them in His service to provide a good well grounded authentic Catholic life for my children and wife. To be a good witness for my neighbors. And, to help the poor. In fact, I have concluded that about anytime I am asked to contribute money to a worthy charity or individual, I can do so. I still consider myself niggardly. Like that young man, I still have that fear and lack of trust in giving more (ALL) of my wealth to the poor and following Jesus. I am a big fan of St. Josemaria Escriva. I completely agree with his idea of living our Catholic life in the surroundings that God has placed us. I can help the poor with my time, talent (minimal) and money.

Anonymous said...

God bless you newguy40 and thank you for sharing! Possibly the greatest poverty of all is to be like the rich man that winds up in hell in Jesus' story about him and Lazarus. It's about being so financially comfortable and yet blinded by it all that one can not be compassionate to the poor here on earth and thus loses his soul for an eternity. The poverty that the homeless suffer here in this life pales in comparison to eternal loss.