My wife Bonnie and I recently returned from a trip to Ongole, India, where the Lord provided for us to be used to build two Church/Orpahanage buildings for two growing Indian congregations. It was a short visit but I came away with an insight that made very real to me something that had been shared with me by my friend Dennis Peacocke years ago. It has to do with the difference between “wealth” and “riches.”
In the villages that we visited the people were extremely poor in terms of “riches” but very “wealthy” in terms of Kingdom values. If we think of “riches” as money, property, possessions, and pleasure, and “wealth” as love, character, contentment, joy, and the fruit of the Spirit we gain an insight into God’s level playing field. All Christians don’t have equal access to “riches” but all have equal access to “wealth.” Those we met and prayed with in the villages of India were very wealthy indeed, but very poor!
This can contrast with the lack of “wealth” that we see in so many “rich” American business owners and leaders. While there is equal access to “wealth” for all Christians, the distractions of “riches” can erode or steal it entirely. “Things” can be a curse or a blessing depending on how we perceive them and use them. Hoarding them brings a curse, sharing them with others a blessing.
I know this is short and perhaps even simplistic but my intention is to cause thought, not to teach at a deep level, I will trust God to do the deep teaching, just think on this idea a bit and ask Him.
Let me give you an example. Before the opportunity to fund the buildings buildings came to us I had an IRA. In reality it was just a bunch of numbers on paper that I received regularly from my broker. It was a bit interesting to watch the numbers go up and down with the value of the stocks but it had no real value to me or to anyone else. I exchanged some of the numbers on paper for two buildings in India that will serve Christian believers and orphans for years to come and was privileged to see and share in the joy and hope in the lives of others that I had never met and who could never repay me (nor should they have to). As we celebrated God’s goodness together in dedicating the buildings to His glory and purpose we shared in His wealth, even though there were no riches to be seen. Riches can be exchanged for wealth, wealth never can be exchanged for riches.
The numbers on the paper meant so very little to me, or to anyone else, but the exchange we made this past week couldn’t be compared and the wealth created is eternal.