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Spreading the Wealth

Life is not equal. Some have more and others have less. Jesus said, “The poor you have with you always” (John 12:8). We may think this is not fair but it is a fact and it will not change.

Men, however, try to get even or make things even. Some steal from the rich. Some gamble on a collective purse. Governments seize property. Communist leaders forbid or restrict private ownership of land. A number of politicians in America are determined to redistribute wealth regardless of the means used or the consequences that follow. Their alleged goal is to eliminate rich and poor class distinctions, but in the end it is to make themselves rich and others poor.

Life makes sure that money doesn’t stay in one place long. For example, death can make the wealthy man poor in an instant. That thought can torment a rich man. Even if he leaves a detailed will, he has no guarantee that his money will be used accordingly. The wise man said, “I must leave it to the man who will come after me. And who knows whether he will be wise or a fool?” (Ecc. 2:18-19). Pride blinds many rich men. They think that “their houses will last forever” (Psa. 49:11). But a rich man dies like a poor man because “when he dies he shall carry away nothing” (Psa. 49:17). For good or bad, death reallocates money.

Natural disasters and manmade calamities such as war and artificial crises also concentrate enormous amounts of wealth. According to Forbes, almost 500 people worldwide became billionaires in the first year of COVID while World Bank estimates that “about 97 million more people are living on less than $1.90 a day because of the pandemic” (World Bank Blogs).

Life is also unpredictable. In general if a man works hard and uses his head he can make money. But not always. Life does not always reward “bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all” (Ecc. 9:11). It does not happen often, but a careless poor man can become rich and a scrupulous rich man can go broke. “There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty” (Prov. 11:24). These are the words of the wisest and richest man in history.

Men use force and deception to redistribute wealth. Life can take as easily as it gives. God, however, teaches us to share out of choice and compassion. He told the Israelites to have mercy on the poor. “You shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him” (Deut. 15:7-8). A tight-fisted saint is an insult to God. The Lord “loves a cheerful giver” (II Cor. 9:7). No law of human government can create or replace this spirit. It springs out of free will and love for others naturally.

The early church practiced this giving from the beginning. “Now all who believed were together, and had all things common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need” (Acts 2:44-45). This was not arbitrary, artificial redistributing of income. It was a common bond, not communism.

The Christian view of possessions always keeps these words in mind: “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fulness” (I Cor. 10:26). We only spend and share the little that God allows us to manage for a short time.

Kerry

West End Church of Christ bulletin article for January 30, 2022

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