Ecclesiastes 5:10-18 He who loves money will not be satisfied with money; nor he who loves wealth, with gain: this also is vanity. (11) When goods increase, they increase who eat them; and what gain has their owner but to see them with his eyes? (12) Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much; but the surfeit of the rich will not let him sleep. (13) There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun: riches were kept by their owner to his hurt, (14) and those riches were lost in a bad venture; and he is father of a son, but he has nothing in his hand. (15) As he came from his mother’s womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil, which he may carry away in his hand. (16) This also is a grievous evil: just as he came, so shall he go; and what gain has he that he toiled for the wind, (17) and spent all his days in darkness and grief, in much vexation and sickness and resentment? (18) Behold, what I have seen to be good and to be fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life which God has given him, for this is his lot.
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You make golden vessels, but Christ himself is starving. You make golden chalices, but fail to offer cups of cold water to the needy. Christ, as a homeless stranger, is wandering around and begging, and instead of receiving Him you make decorations. ~Saint John Chrysostom
I am yet to see anyone out there who becomes rich as a result of making others rich. It almost seems that the rich become wealthy either by keeping others poor directly or indirectly.
This is what Scripture says about money and wealth:
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. (Matthew 6:19-20 RSV)
For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs. (1 Timothy 6:10 RSV)
You honour the altar at church because the body of Christ rests upon it. But those who are themselves the very body of Christ you treat with contempt and you remain indifferent when you see them perishing. ~Saint John Chrysostom
Sébastien-Roch Nicholas de Chamfort once said, “Society comprises two classes: those who have more food than appetite, and those who have more appetite than food.” I believe from experience and observation that poverty is hunger accompanied with inadequate treated water for consumption. It is not having money to buy enough food (whether good and hygienic food is another issue altogether) as Mahatma Gandhi said, “To a man with an empty stomach food is God.” Poverty can also be the lack of proper houses available for rent at an affordable rate or worst, the lack of shelter itself. Poverty is depending on second-hand clothes because you cannot afford new ones. Poverty can also be the denial of access to quality health services due to your economic and social status. Poverty is not being able to continue schooling, not having a job or the imprisonment of your fundamental privileges not because of political, racial or religious restrictions, rather due to lack of available options in daily living. Poverty in one way or another has impacts on how we participate and interact in our society. As human beings born in liberty in one form or another, we are likely to take certain crucial things for granted such as water, food, clothing just to name a few. This happens because we think they are readily available to our disposal and therefore could be handled in ways that pleases us. I am sorry to say that this careless habits stops at the exposure of poverty and its many impacts in life.
Before I present some ways I believe we Christians can “live” in poverty without compromising our faith, let us give sincere recognition and appreciation of all the various wonderful things that God has seen us through over the years. St. Paul tells us of how our Lord Jesus Christ emptied himself completely for our sake through his humanity, humility, humiliation and death at the cross, that we might share in His Divine richness: “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthian 8:9 ASV) One of the focal point of our faith is the Kingdom of God, Heaven. We are warned throughout Sacred Scripture not to lose focus of this. Money is the line that practically divides the rich from the poor. Again, St. Paul tells us in his epistle to Timothy that, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil: which some reaching after have been led astray from the faith, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:10 ASV) One may ask, “How do I manage this unfriendly and unfamiliar sudden change in life?” Well, I can only share what my family and I do and hopes it may enlighten you in a way. We always plan ahead and do our best to make good use of the little food that is available to us. Practically, we do not waste money on junk foods and drinks that one would like to spoil himself with. We cook food that we can eat and we usually do not need to eat three square meals daily. I like to take something light in the morning such as some slice of bread and cocoa drink. I have also trained my body and mind over time in such a way that I can live on two meals daily. I do not eat meat and chicken, only fish. This I believe is a good spiritual exercise as well. It makes me focus more on things of God than the allures of material things such as latest fashion trends and clothing, tech gadgets and unnecessary outings. I am refreshed every time I remember these words of my Lord and Saviour, “Therefore I say unto you, be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than the food, and the body than the raiment?” (Matthew 6:25 ASV) It is very relieving in learning how to live without most of the material things that gives me temporary pleasures. I believe these testing times are great opportunities for me to dig deeper into the awesome things of God and to live a life of prayer. Finally, I should add that these trying moments are the times to demonstrate your love and care for one another. You and your family/friend can together contribute some money to buy things like bag of rice, etc and share among yourselves. This I believe is very cost effective. You need each other in these times. I leave you with the words of St. Paul to the church in Philippi, “I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13 ASV) Yes, I believe by God’s grace you can survive and endure these moments too. Thank you.
PS: I wrote this article to a friend of mine in the year 2009. I am now a full vegetarian, I don’t take fish anymore and many things have changed too
To all those suffering from heavy burden of debt, some interesting quotations and sayings for you.
Money is just the poor man’s credit card. ~Marshall McLuhan
Life was a lot simpler when what we honored was father and mother rather than all major credit cards. ~Robert Orben
The modern banking system manufactures money out of nothing. The process is perhaps the most astounding piece of sleight-of-hand that was ever invented. Banking was conceived in inequity and born in sin… But if you want to continue to be slaves of the bankers and pay the cost of your own slavery, then let the bankers continue to create money and control credit. ~Josiah Charles Stamp
Modern man drives a mortgaged car over a bond-financed highway on credit-card gas. ~Earl Wilson
We must take away the government’s credit card. With limits on both tax revenue and borrowing, the Federal government would finally be forced to get serious about spending cuts. ~Alan Keyes
The rich are different from you and me because they have more credit. ~John Leonard
The creditor hath a better memory than the debtor. ~James Howell
No young man starting in life could have better capital than plenty of friends. They will strengthen his credit, support him in every great effort, and make him what, unaided, he could never be. Friends of the right sort will help him more – to be happy and successful – than much money. ~Orison Swett Marden
A check or credit card, a Gucci bag strap, anything of value will do. Give as you live. ~Jesse Jackson
Banks introduced the installment plan. The disappearance of cash and the coming of the credit card changed the shape of life in the United States. ~Jerzy Kosinski
I hate this shallow Americanism which hopes to get rich by credit, to get knowledge by raps on midnight tables, to learn the economy of the mind by phrenology, or skill without study, or mastery without apprenticeship. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Blest paper-credit! last and best supply! That lends corruption lighter wings to fly. ~Alexander Pope