Desire Neither Poverty nor Riches
In his prayer Agur asks for moderation, a life unencumbered by financial extremes. As Biblical studies professor and commentator Tremper Longman III explains in modern socioeconomic jargon, 'The sage asks for middle-class status rather than affluence or poverty.' Ultimately, Agur is talking about contentment, having what he needs and being happy with that. Leadership development specialist and ministry consultant Neil Atkinson makes the following observations in his discussion of contentment:
Life is not about things. Our consumer-driven economy is about things. If we believe that life is found in the externals as our culture teaches us, we will believe that what we drive tells people who we are. Confusion wants us to believe that there is a thing-size vacuum within us that is waiting for just the 'right' things to fill it.
Confusion eraser: Nothing outside of great relationships (true riches) can satisfy us at our deepest levels.
To expand on what Pascal said, 'There is a 'God-size vacuum' within each of us that cannot be filled by people or things; it can only be filled by God.' It is my experience that most CMC [Christian Middle Class] people believe Pascal. Or at least they want to, sort of, in an occasional way.
Let's paraphrase Ecclesiastes 5:10-12, 'the person who loves to shop never can shop enough. The person who loves to acquire never can acquire enough.' It is the search for the Holy Grail. The 'grail' does not exist. The search is all that matters. So in our war we find that having something does not fill us. It is the implied promise of fulfillment in getting that thing that draws us!
We often read articles about people with $100,000 incomes 'struggling' to make ends meet. Sad. I know a woman whose former husband sends her only $200,000 per year in alimony and child support. How could she possibly live on that trifling amount? Very sad.
I have a client who makes only $32,000 after twenty-five years with the same company. His hobby is his passion. He has more than enough. Glad.
Our daughter, Jodi, worked in an orphanage in Nicaragua. The generator was shut off at nine each night. The orphanage had no hot water, but they made it with lots of bats, rats, and mice. There were fifteen kids under the age of two, and total silence prevailed in the compound for only three hours a day. Jodi received room and board for the four months she worked there. No other pay. Very glad.
Life is lived on our insides. What makes our insides smile? More money is almost never the answer.