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March 28, 2017

Lent 2017: Day Twenty-Five

Week Four: Allocation of Resources

Reflection for the Week: How can we have courage to be generous even when we think there is not enough?

I remember the day one of my sons shared a twist on an old phrase. Having spent a few years working for minimum wage, paying for his own apartment and car, and going to school full time he said, “Dad, it may be true that money can’t make you happy. But lack of it makes you miserable.” It’s true, although I will confess that even though I don’t play the lottery, if someone gave me a winning ticket, I would love to try to be both rich and happy. I can imagine just how fun it would be to be able to fund new vans for an after school program for kids at a local church, or to set up a scholarship for those called to ordained ministry to pay off their student loan debt. Money isn’t bad, it is great. Without money we can’t care for the people and things we love. The proverb text is not about money as the root of all evil, it is about an obsession with it that leads us down a useless path in life.

Notice it says, “Do not wear yourself out to get rich.” It is a matter of focus. It is a matter of balance. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, said, “Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can.” You can’t save money or give money unless you make money. But notice he did not say, “Spend all you can.” The problem with focusing on how much we have accumulated or what we can buy is that someone always seems to have accumulated more or bought bigger. The question is not how much must we have to find peace of mind, but rather how do we find peace of mind with what we have?

Obviously, we live in a world where we must earn enough to pay the bills and plan for the future. But, we must also live today. If we wear ourselves out chasing after the almighty dollar, we do not have the spirit to enjoy the gifts in life that good stewardship offers.

I guess the other question is, “What does it mean to be rich?” I don’t think being rich should be defined by any dollar amount. It should be defined by peace of mind, or the wholeness of the soul. I have always told my sons, “If you are generous, you are rich.” I have seen many people with full bank accounts and empty souls. They are the poorest of the poor.

How rich are you? To find out, look at what you give to others.

Prayer: Lord all that I have comes from you. May I know the riches of a life lived in faith. Amen.

Rev. John Farley
Dean of Cabinet
California-Pacific Conference