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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Rich Understanding

I've blogged before about rich people. They are an easy target. Our culture holds them in high regard. We seem to be fascinated by rich people and even by wealth itself. The TV shows, the magazines, and other media all feed our insatiable appetite for a gander at "how the other half lives."

Simply put, we want to observe rich people. We like to explore their houses, their lifestyles and more. We like to rank them, and stand in awe of their vast wealth. Now what do you suppose that says about us?

I was reading in Psalm 49:16 the other day, where it says, "Do not be overawed when a man grows rich, when the splendor of his house increases; ..." And yet we are. We are more than awed. We are taken, captivated, fascinated and intrigued. Even the most mature of us Christ followers will talk about how fabulous some one's new house is. We gawk at wealth and it holds its notoriety even in our churches.

Psalm 49:18 talks about the rich man. It says, "Though while he lived he counted himself blessed - and men praise you when you prosper ..." I think that probably is accurate in our culture today. I have yet to meet a rich man who didn't consider himself (or herself) blessed. In fact, in Christian cultures, most of the rich people I've observed happily celebrate their wealth. They believe they're blessed. And perhaps they are.

But the kicker in all this is how Psalm 49:20 concludes this. "A man who has riches without understanding is like the beasts that perish." So it would seem that there are two kinds of rich people. The first would be those who are blessed. The second would be those who are not. Notice that they are both still rich!

You see, the destitute man (or woman) is the one who has riches without understanding. Whom do you suppose these people are? How does one acquire riches without understanding? Aren't rich people rich because they are so clever? Or does cleverness not equal understanding?

No, the dilemma for the rich is to be rich with understanding. In other words the rich are challenged to seek God first. They are challenged to find God's wisdom above all other forms of wisdom (including their own).

So the next time you are tempted to stand in awe of someone who is wealthy, consider their understanding. Is he or she rich with the understanding of God? Does he or she acknowledge God in all of their ways? I may never be able to watch Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous the same way again!

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