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Sunday, 14 October 2012

Money is good

It's no surprise the Bible has much to say about money, wealth and riches, and the pursuit of all the above. Whether you're a CEO with a salary of millions, or you're on a benefit or you put in 40+ hours for a weekly wage, the chances are that you think you need more.

And just to clarify, it's not money that's the root of all evil - it's the love of the stuff that creates problems. Money in itself is a good thing. I can trade or invest my time and skills, and in return, I can bring home the bacon and the chocolate. The Bible also talks about blessing and rewards, both spiritual and material.

Having money means I can buy stuff, or I can give it away. The issue is not whether I have it, but what my attitude is towards it. And there are some very clear biblical principles of giving:
  • into the House of God, the church, supporting the work of the Ministry; and
  • attending to the needs of widows and orphans (or today's equivalents, solo Mums and Dads, and kids from broken families.
I have a lot of respect for my friends who operate a food bank, and the volunteers who help them. I see a genuine concern, and they're putting their money where their mouth is. Anon says, "You make a living from what you get; You make a life from what you give."

But I don't understand the folks who shouted through megaphones outside the Hastings Child, Youth and Family on a National Day of Action against Welfare Reform. What did they hope to achieve by harassing the staff whose job it is to simply administer the policy. Wouldn't it make more sense to lobby or appeal to the decision-makers or the local government MP? 

Maybe their action was born out of frustration...

Maybe there's a deeper question.

I was shocked when I listened to a Budget debate and there was much talk from one side of the House about "income redistribution" and the Government's "responsibility" to ensure all incomes were spread across the population. Surely that's a far cry from the original purpose of the Welfare State, which was to provide a hand-up, not a hand-out.

We'd all agree it's the government's role to provide security, to uphold law and justice, and to pool resources to tackle the big projects like roads and electricity. But is it really their job to provide charity on my behalf? Compassion by Compulsion, there's an oxymoron...

And obviously I'm not against charity, I play my part, and I encourage you to play yours. But there's something out of balance with a society when those who are less-fortunate (even through no fault of their own) receive so much more than those who are being taxed to supply it. As my friend Mark Rowe says, "If there's something that costs you nothing, it's usually because someone else paid for it."

The question for you and me is, how will we personally respond to the needs we see around us? Do we tend to look with envy at those who have more, or do we consider with compassion those who have less? And what can we offer of our own time, talents and possessions to help out others?

I'm not suggesting it's our responsibility to solve all the problems. Even Jesus and his disciples waited until they heard the Holy Spirit say to get involved. It's really just a question of the heart.

I recently heard Inga the Winger talking about his childhood years as a new immigrant to New Zealand, and some of the hardships his mother had to overcome in raising her rather large family. He said:
"Just because we are poor, and we have nothing, you don't have to allow poverty to live in you."
It follows that for those of us who are better off, we need to consider whether it's poverty or compassion we'll allow to live inside us...

2 comments:

  1. I am fortunate in that I have a career and can support my boys financially and enjoy life's little extras from time to time. I also enjoy paying it forward - I have donated many thousands of dollars over the years to such worthy causes as the SPCA, Cot Death prevention, Matisse, the Salvation Army, food banks, the Christmas Cheer Appeal ... the list goes on and on. Getting isn't nearly as satisfying and giving. :)

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  2. Hi Kezza, you rock, the world just became a better place! I love your last sentence, got it in one :-)

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