Rich Man, Poor Man

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Each of you goes ahead and eats a private meal. One person goes hungry while another is drunk. Don’t you have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you look down on God’s churches and humiliate those who have nothing? What can I say to you? Will I praise you? No, I don’t praise you in this (1 Corinthians 11:21-22, Common English Bible).

You’re rich if you’ve had a meal today – Billy Graham.

As I write tonight, it is with a heavy heart as my father passed away earlier this evening. I am trying to be faithful in my writing and I don’t know what the days ahead will bring so I am moving forward with a post for today. I probably will write a post about my dad but I think I need that to be a few days from now.

Thanks a lot Billy Graham. While I have never really considered myself a poor man but at the same time, I know I am FAR from being rich. My bank account will never be confused with that of Bill Gates, Donald Trump or one of the Rockefeller clan.

For much of my life I have gone happily along with my solid middle class lifestyle. Then I went to college and I had a professor who said, “If you have a car in your driveway, by world standards you are rich. Most people in the world, even people who are fairly well-off do not own a car.” As I thought about that, and thought about how much money it was costing to raise two kids and pay for school on a first-year preacher’s salary, and at one point (toward the end of my bachelor’s degree) I saw three cars in the driveway (Wayne, our oldest wasn’t far from starting to drive), I thought, “Professor Abcxyz, has absolutely lost his mind! This whole yard could be full of cars. I’m not rich, standards of the world or not.

Well, to listen to Billy Graham, I was right and Professor Abcxyz was wrong. Having cars in the driveway doesn’t make me rich, having something to eat once a day is what does the trick. WHAT???? I ate three times today, I must be a multi-millionaire. Just took a look at the checking account and there are nowhere near enough zeros for me to classified as anything other than a thousandaire (I know, I invented a new word, no not really Howard on The Big Bang Theory used the word).

Truly, however, I do get Billy Graham’s point. Because I always have food to eat, I am wealthier than a whole lot of people in the world. Because I have food to eat, I am wealthier than many of the people in my own country. Because I have food to eat, and always have had food to eat, I have never known what it feels like to truly be hungry. A fact that is not true for so many citizens of the world.

The truth is, God has blessed me with everything I need. Where the problem is, I am not so good in my faithfulness in how I allocate the funds God has entrusted to me. I need to be more faithful.

What is true with what I have that I fail to share with the world is equally true about my faithfulness (many of our faithfulness) in what we share with the Church. I actually found two quotes I really liked for this post. The first was the Billy Graham quote. I picked it first because I have a few readers who read my blog because I write it, though they are far from being a person of faith. Sharing with the world isn’t just a Christian problem, it is a world problem and though Rev. Graham is obviously a spiritual man, that quote goes beyond the spiritual to address something that should move us all.

The second quote comes from inspirational speaker Dr. Brian Kluth. He said, “No church ever has a money problem, only a faithfulness problem.” It kind of reminds me of an old joke where a preacher says to his congregation, “I have good news and bad news. The good news is, we have all the money we need to complete our building project. The bad news is, it’s still in your wallets.”

Brian Kluth is right. We seem to trust God with much of our lives, but not with control over our wallets or checkbooks. When it comes to our money, God is less than trustworthy, no matter how much God promises to care for us throughout the Bible.

I want to issue you a challenge. For one year, when your income, be it sales commissions, salaries, social security, pension, however you get your money, take the first ten percent and give it to God before you do anything else. Call it first fruits. In the earliest days of Scripture the first fruits were an offering to God. Give God your first fruits, your first ten percent. Preferably pay a tithe to your church. If you don’t have a church give it to a charity. Invest in God. Invest beyond yourself. Share what you have.

Next, take another ten percent from what God has given you and pay yourself. In other words, take ten percent and stick it in the bank. You know, save it for a rainy day. Save it for retirement. Invest with it for the future.

Now that you have given your first fruits and paid yourself, live on the remaining 80 percent. Use it to pay your bills. Use it to buy your food. Use it to provide yourself entertainment. Whatever you want to do, do it with the 80.

At the end of a year, take a look and see where you are compared to where you are right now. I truly believe that if we can overcome our faithfulness problem by sharing what we have, God will bless us beyond anything we can imagine. Don’t be stingy like the Corinthians Paul wrote about.

Remember, if we are faithful, God will bless us.

Have a great day in the Lord.

Grace and Peace,
Keith

Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved.

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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