Thinking Biblically About Wealth During Seasons of Scarcity – by Dr. Anne Bradley
As a parent of two small children who also works full-time, sometimes the needs around me can seem overwhelming.
When this happens, I return to James 1:2-4:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
The definition for “count” in Webster’s 1828 edition is, among other things,
To reckon; to place to an account; to ascribe or impute; to consider or esteem as belonging.
Counting, therefore, is not merely the setting aside of items for categorization, but the accumulation of experiences that speak to the nature of our identities.
As we count our trials, so we testify to our character. And nothing tests our character like scarcity of resources, financial or otherwise. Many of us feel this acutely in financial terms. Others, in relational ones. All of us desperately need relief that only comes through Christ.
Scarcity, in the sense of finitude, isn’t a death sentence, although scarcity, when it pertains to our financial situations, can be extremely painful. All of us can likely point to a time in their lives when money was scarce. Some of us are still in that place.
I’m often asked how Christians are to think about Matthew 26:11, a verse indicating that the poor will always be with us. Through innovation and rising standards of living, many who would have been poor in previous centuries can now experience an unprecedented quality of life.
Everyone, even those with fewer resources by earthly standards, is responsible to steward those resources well. It’s easy to look to others near us and envy their apparent security. But even those of us with less means are called to invest these assets in ways that glorify God and seek to bring about flourishing.
Though we may not experience true material poverty, we will always see the effects of spiritual poverty around us. And though affluence solves material needs, it doesn’t solve spiritual difficulties.
How we handle all of these difficulties matters because they’re vehicles for sanctification. Our calling is one to faithfulness, to meeting trials with the confidence that steadfastness in Christ requires of all of us.
Dear God, Remind me to be thankful for the blessings You have placed in my life – relationships, monetary security, a job, and so much more – and mostly for your Son, Jesus Christ. Help me to remember how poor I am without you, and to be faithful with all you have given me. Amen.
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Anne Bradley, Ph.D. is Vice President of Economic Initiatives at the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics (www.tifwe.org).
CLS is working with the Institue for Faith, Work & Economics (IFWE) to provide thoughtful and inspiring devotionals to CLS members. IFWE is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) Christian research organization committed to promoting biblical and economic principles that help individuals find fulfillment in their work and contribute to a free and flourishing society.