Summary: Paul instructs Christians who possess wealth their responsibility in employing what God has entrusted to them.

“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” [1]

It was Thanksgiving, 1972 or 1973, I don’t exactly remember. I was in the midst of doctoral studies, responsible for the animals used in my studies. This required daily care; and thus, though it was a holiday, I was compelled to go to the medical school early on Thanksgiving morning to tend to my animals. The cages needed to be cleaned, the animals fed and watered and perform a visual check of their general condition.

When I entered the laboratories, I met two fellows—one a post-doctoral fellow and the other a pre-doctoral fellow. These men were students from a foreign land. Because they spoke the same language, they had become friends despite the disparity in their educational position at that time. I asked them why they were in the laboratories on a holiday. Henry, the older of the two, said, “We have nowhere to go and nothing else to do, so we are just working today.”

I hurried back to my laboratory when all my responsibilities had been fulfilled so that I could phone Lynda. Would she accept me bring home a couple of guests. She hesitated only a moment before agreeing. She cautioned that we didn’t have much, but we would share what we had with these foreign students.

The meal was quite simple, because we were surviving on a pre-doctoral fellow’s income. There were a few potatoes, frozen vegetables and mock-ham salad (from bologna, at that time a staple in our home). Lynda had splurged to buy a small toupee ham—a rare luxury for us, but it was Thanksgiving, after all.

After returning grace and passing the first dish to our guests, I noticed that Henry’s eyes were moist. “Is everything alright, Henry?” I asked.

Looking at what we thought was a rather meagre meal, the young man commented, “I am overwhelmed at how rich you are. We would never see so much food at one time back home.”

His comment definitely took Lynda and me by surprise. He continued by stating that in his home, they saved elastic bands, string, plastic in order to reuse these common packaging items. “We even save the rice sacks,” he stated, “lest we should one day have nothing with which to cover our shame.” His fellow student was vigorously nodding his head in agreement.

“You are so wealthy,” he said. I didn’t detect a hint of envy; only a sense of astonishment at what appeared to him to be overwhelming abundance. “You are so wealthy.”

That shared meal, and the conversation was an eye-opener for me; I was transformed by the discussion that Thanksgiving day. I had grown up in what many would consider poverty. My dad was a blacksmith who had been severely injured in the war. He eked out a meagre income sharpening plowshares, sharpening sickles and shoeing horses and mules. He did some welding. We raised chickens and a few pigs. From about eight years of age onward, I purchased my own clothing for school, and paid for whatever entertainment I might enjoy.

I suppose my family was poor by modern standards, though we didn’t know we were poor. We had a water line that brought water to a single tap in our kitchen. It would need to be thawed several times during the winter because it would freeze. Someone would crawl under the house, wrap paper around the line and set it on fire. Otherwise, there would be no water until spring. We had an outdoor toilet; it didn’t freeze up. Our house had four rooms—two bedrooms, a kitchen and a living room. Nevertheless, we had love and we were content.

I said all this by way of insisting that I am not wealthy, nor have I ever been wealthy! I suspect that each individual to whom I am speaking this day would make similar assertions. We are not wealthy! We don’t think of ourselves as wealthy! However, when compared to those living in the most of the world, we are fabulously wealthy. Even our poor have automobiles, microwave ovens, large-screen televisions and computers. The majority of inhabitants of this fallen world do not enjoy such luxuries. Let’s admit a disconcerting truth—we are wealthy. Perhaps we are not wealthy when comparing ourselves to other Canadians; but when we compare ourselves to the majority of people living in this world, we are wealthy.

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