I like to go to the number of proverb that coincides with the date. So today being the 13th, verse 7 caught my attention.
"There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing; and one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches."
My late husband had a sister who, with her husband, had a very prosperous business selling liquor. They'd vacation in the Bahamas and make trips to Europe. My husband visited them once at their condo in Manhattan. Their parking for a month was more than our monthly mortgage payment. She would buy fresh coffee for umpteen dollars a pound. If they dined out, they disdained to take home leftovers (to be said with a sneer of disgust).
She would SAY she "loved God" - but you'd never find her in a church. And she succeeded in alienating almost all of her family and friends. Their marriage also seemed an empty shell. They made a special trip one year to the Vatican in Rome to "renew their vows," but I think they could have just saved their money.
Eventually she died of liver cancer. I don't know where she is now, but I would not be terribly surprised if I don't see her when it's my turn to go. I think of the story Jesus told of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16).
And for all their wealth and possessions, I did not find myself envying them. Their lives seemed so void of meaning.
I can't say I'm "poor" compared to many in this world. I have a job, which I enjoy, which provides me with ENOUGH. I may not be super well-to-do, but I'm comfortable. And I can contribute to others' needs. I would probably be better off, in the WORLD'S estimation, if I wouldn't tithe or make mission trips. Granted, I sometimes get offerings towards the missions, but most of it comes from my own pocket, from tax returns. And it's not just the plane fare. I don't want to be a burden to my hosts, and I also want to be able to bless people. And so...I make myself poor. I spend not only my money, but also my time, talent, energies. I pour myself out. I don't always have a very comfortable bed.
I may be very hot or very cold, because there's no air conditioning or central heating.
I may not have indoor plumbing. (those are bricks to position your feet above the hole....)
I may travel scrunched up in vehicles meant for people with shorter legs - motokars
(often chased by dogs), in a "combi" (minivan) crammed like sardines, or in a bus with my knees to my nose.
And I may not get a great variety of food. (I avoid rice for a couple of months after coming home!)
But OH! I feel so rich! I have formed strong friendships, extended my spiritual family, had marvelous and memorable experiences - I would not trade them for all of my sister-in-law's perishable wealth. I may live from paycheck to paycheck, but I know I have a treasure laid up in heaven for me, because I've invested in the Kingdom of God.