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                It is said that there are two things that you never talked about at the dinner table – religion and politics. Those two subjects would almost always cause some type of argument. I believe now we can add another subject that will bring about ill feelings – the economy. We have clear facts on the economy, but we argue over what they mean and how we feel about them.

            At the last report, the United States economy was growing. More jobs were being added, fewer people were unemployed, and wages have gone up. These numbers are easy to find, and they do not lie, yet they do not tell the whole story. We can examine the wages. They have risen by over 2.8% in the last year, but so has inflation. It has risen at 2.7%, which means that the increase in wages is offset by inflation. The numbers tell one story, but surveys tell us that most Americans do not feel that the economy is that good.

            After we spend time arguing over the economy, we turn to our personal wealth or lack of it. The wealthiest people keep getting wealthier, and everyone else is not. We, in America, cry wealth inequality while we spend an average of $164 a day. Over 3 billion people in the world live off of less than $5.50 a day, and still 10% of the world’s population lives off of less than $1.90 a day. As bad as this is, this is a decrease in the percentage in the last decade and there is hope that the extreme poverty in the world can disappear in the next decade.

            Taking all this together, the US economy is either booming, or it’s a bust. Americans are getting wealthier or poorer. We are doing better than most of the world, and most of the world is better off than it used to be but is way behind us. What one person sees as good times, another sees as gloom and doom. No wonder we cannot agree on economics and wealth. People cannot even agree on the interpretation of undisputable facts, and then our politics and our religion (whichever side of the political spectrum you are on, determines your outlook on the economy, and your religion determines what you think should be done with our wealth or lack of it) are brought into the discussion.

            The debate over wealth and economics will never be settled this side of heaven. Some people will never have enough, while others will always have too much. Trying to wade into this debate is a no-win situation. A better place for a Christian to interject is to remind other believers that no matter how much cash you may or may not have, or how many possessions you own or wish you owned; you have already been made wealthy in Jesus.

            Paul writes:

I always thank my God for you because of God’s grace given to you in Christ Jesus, that by Him you were enriched in everything—in all speech and all knowledge. In this way, the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you, so that you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you will be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; you were called by Him into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1: 4-9 HCSB – emphasis mine.)

            The key word in this passage is “enriched.” The word in the Greek means to be “richly furnished,” or more specifically, they were made wealthy. It is in the passive voice (I am by no means a grammar expert, but I try) which means that the verb “enriched” is the most important part of the phrase. Paul is telling the Corinthians that, in their salvation, they were richly furnished or made wealthy with what they needed. In What were they wealthy? Paul shares four ways they were wealthy:

  1. They were wealthy in all speech and knowledge
  2. They were wealthy in all spiritual gifts
  3. They were wealthy in endurance
  4. They were wealthy in fellowship with Jesus.

             Is there any greater wealth than these? Is gold worth more than speech and knowledge, especially when salvation is on the line? Are we better off with diamonds than with spiritual gifts? Which of these will better build the kingdom of God? Can stocks and bonds give us the strength to continue on when life gets hard? Can money truly buy friendships that will last, or even more important, fellowship with our Savior? The true wealthy are not the ones with the most materials, but the ones who are closest to God.

            Our culture places a greater value on material wealth. Jesus did not. He gave the proper perspective on material riches in Matthew 6:19-21. Every bit of material wealth we accumulate will be left behind, and what is not stolen by thieves will be destroyed by moths or dust. The wealth we spend most of our time trying to attain will not add a day to our lives, nor will it be taken with us when we die. The wealth that God has enriched us with, on the other hand, will last forever. What we do with our speech, knowledge, gifts, endurance, and fellowship has eternal consequences.

             It is a waste of time and energy to continue in the endless debates over the economy and wealth. All the debates will do is cost us time and friendships. You will not change many, if any, minds with your take on the economic numbers. You will, however, change lives with the wealth that God has given you. Will you spend your time trying to accumulate wealth that will not last, or will you accept the wealth God has already given? Will you store up treasures that will disappear, or will you store up treasures that will last forever?

MJ

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