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WEALTH AND SELF
The other day, I was in a shop where I regularly buy fresh fruit and vegetables. We call it a 'roadside stall', as the people grow, on the property, much of the product they sell. This is always a nostalgia trip for me as our first business was one of a similar nature, many, many moons ago.
When passing pleasantries with the lady behind the counter, she asked how I was. I responded with my standard 'joke' of, "It's no use complaining." Upon thinking about it, this is not a very positive response, particularly as I am feeling 'fighting fit' at the moment! But it was said with a smile, so I thought she would understand what I really meant.
Her response startled me! "It's just as well not to complain, for nobody cares these days anyway. People are only interested in themselves."
How true that is! Words of wisdom from a lady of the land! Sad to say, this has become the state of our selfish world.
It is also largely reflected in church life too. Our attitude so often is, 'What can we get out of it', rather than, 'How can we help others'. If our church doesn't satisfy our needs, we find another. Then another...
Upon leaving the shop with my bag of delicious Pacific Rose apples (Adam and Eve, eat your heart out!) I got a-thinking! Why is our world as it is today?
As I pondered, driving along with my eyes on the road and my mind elsewhere, the Lord said to me, "Jew and Greek". I didn't crash, although I may have swerved a little! (Just joking!)
The magnetic grip of Humanism that is attracting so much of the world today is based in Greek philosophy. The Romans inherited it from the Greeks and we, in turn, have inherited it from them.
It is a philosophy that has always appealed to the well off financially, for they can truly live for themselves, becoming independent through their own efforts. It is not just a modern problem though. In Jesus' time too, the wealthy elite of Jewish society were Hellenists, adhering to the culture of the Greeks who ruled Palestine before the Romans.
What is different today however, having developed over the past 60 odd years since World War 2, is that wealth and prosperity has multiplied dramatically, reaching down to many, many people in the developed countries. And our reaction has been the same as it was in the time of Jesus. We are now capable of looking after ourselves without God's help - and we do! Money, education and self-interest reign as gods in the place of God. And yet, many in the church continue to preach a prosperity doctrine promoting a lifetimes supply of caviar and champagne in place of 'our daily bread'! This simply serves to turn people away from God, firmly into the clutches of the worldly system.
Even worse than, and related to, the 'wealth' syndrome, is the insidious way Humanism beguiles us into placing 'self' above others, as my lady friend in the shop so clearly understood. We have seen the breakdown of the family unit and the substitution of the state as the provider in its place. Ironically, in an era of so-called independence we are becoming increasingly dependent upon the state to take over the God ordained role of the family unit. In the less developed world though, where the state is unable to be Father Christmas every week of the year, the family unit generally remains the backbone and backstop of society.
This is predicted in the Bible where in these final days, it tells us people will become lovers of themselves.
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
The good thing though, is that by following 'The Way' of Jesus, by putting others needs before our own, we can be identified as being different to the world. For the darker the darkness, the brighter the light will be seen that shines within it. (A new 'David's Doodling' here!) So let us not be seduced and beguiled by the humanistic world system, but as Jesus preached and displayed by His own example, be servants of God and others rather than lovers of wealth and self.
We can make a world of difference by being different to the world!
By David Tait via PGIM issue 256 18 Sept 2006
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