It is possible to feel financially poor when you are not really financially poor.
My family only has one car. That car is not big enough to fit all of us. Up to this point, we haven’t been able to buy a second car. I know. Cry a tear for me. What a hard life.
That’s clearly not poverty.
I mean, we have a car. We live in a beautiful house. I could go on and on. We are not financially poor, but it is possible for us to feel like it and I suppose in comparison to others who are really seriously financially rich, it might even be possible for us to look a little like it.
This is a weird post so far, I know, but the point is, feeling financially poor is not the same thing as being financially poor. There needs to be some sort of standard of what is really truly being in great need, otherwise, with how selfish we all are, I think many of us could find some way to look at our financial circumstances and feel a little sorry for ourselves.
Especially, if others agree with us.
I think that sometimes living in Africa. There is a lot of need here. And the fact is there are many people who are in real, legitimate crisis. But there are also many others who aren’t. There are some who have as much as anyone anywhere and there are others who may not have as much, but still, aren’t truly desperate, at least when you compare what they have to what the Bible says we need.
Take what Paul says we need as an example.
“But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” (1 Timothy 6:8)
In other words according to Paul, what are two legitimate needs? Having something to eat and something to wear. I am not inspired so I don’t get to add to Scripture, but I would be tempted to also say, somewhere to sleep. Beyond that though, it seems like Paul would look at it as a sweet, God-given luxury.
While I know that’s intense, I also think it helps.
Because if everyone is telling you that your life is so terrible, it might be easy to start believing it, and even making excuses for yourself. I don’t have to be serious about spiritual things, because look at how hard I have it. Are you starving? Ok, let’s get you some food. Are you naked? Let’s find you something to put on. Beyond that, let’s work at making things better, but be careful not to just throw in the towel and wallow in how hard we have it.
It might sound like this isn’t so compassionate, and that’s not my intention believe me, and I usually tend to speak the other direction, but at the same time I do think expressing an abundance of sorrow for people who aren’t in what the Bible would consider a true crisis, can be uncompassionate as well. And here’s what I mean by that. If you look at someone and you are always like how terrible, how hard, you might miss how much better some of what they are experiencing really is than even what you are experiencing, you might tempt them to miss it as well, and you can subtly put yourself in a superior kind of position when you definitely don’t deserve it.
In other words, if you are running a race with someone who isn’t wearing shoes, don’t just tell them to toughen up, help them get a pair. But if you are wearing Nikes and they are wearing Walmart’s version, while you might want to help them get a better pair of sneakers, you really don’t have to go around talking to them about how hard they must have it. I mean, they are wearing shoes.