Friday, October 12, 2007

Neither Poverty Nor Riches

Proverbs 30:7-9
Two things I asked of You,
Do not refuse me before I die:
Keep deception and lies far from me,
Give me neither poverty nor riches;
Feed me with the food that is my portion,
That I not be full and deny You and say, "Who is the LORD?"
Or that I not be in want and steal,
And profane the name of my God.

At Prayer Meeting on Tuesday night, this was the passage the opening message was based on. It really spoke to me. I've been thinking a lot since then about asking God to give neither poverty nor riches. It seems sort of obvious that we shouldn't ask for riches, though it's also very hard to ask God not to give them to us. However, I think I often feel I can't ask God to save me from poverty either, as if that's asking too much. I feel like I deserve nothing and to ask God to keep me from poverty is like ignoring the poverty all over the world; it's like saying, 'I know 92% of the world's population is poor, but please don't make me poor'. But it's interesting here how Agur asks for neither riches nor poverty. His reasoning is wise; riches will make him forget God, but poverty could cause him to steal and curse God. He does not desire for either to happen. It's gotten me thinking.

We are far from poor right now. We are nowhere near living in poverty. But we aren't rich, by a Western definition, either. We have to watch every penny now that we're on only one wage. But there was something freeing about asking God to keep us from 'poverty', so that we don't steal. And by steal, I'm not talking about knicking a pie from the market or anything; there are many ways one can steal. It's so easy to devise plans of getting extra money - 'tweaking' tax returns, signing on to the dole when you have no intention of finding a new job, not declaring your full tips, adding a few hours to your time sheet. These are the things that can become tempting, at least for me, but they are stealing.

Yet, it's difficult to ask God not to give riches. I think I often think, 'I won't pray for riches, but if God wants to give them to me, I'll take it!' To actually ask to be kept from becoming rich is quite difficult. But I know how money is, and when you have enough of it, you truly do tend to forget God. With loads of money, you don't have to depend on God for everything. When you are watching every penny you have, you find you must trust God constantly for your daily bread. It's not a bad place to be. Uncomfortable, yes, but we aren't called to be comfortable. We're called to be humble.

If God gives you riches, this isn't bad. But it's a place of huge responsibility. I realise now that I really am not ready for that responsibility. When we were living on two wages, we spent money left and right. Even now I find it difficult to spend nothing. So, though it isn't easy, I'm trying to be thankful that I do not have riches. I'm trying to trust God to meet all my needs. And I'm very thankful that I'm not living in true poverty.

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