08.THE MIDDLE-CLASS AND ITS MONEY

QUITE A LOT has been said recently about a class of people known as WASP’s: White, Anglo-Saxon Protestants. Sometimes the impression is left that any white (or black) middle-class American should be ashamed, simply because others are less fortunate than he. It should be profitable to consider this thought from a Biblical point of view.

Jesus said it was hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, but He commended a few who tried. On one occasion He told a rich man to sell all he had and give it to the poor (Luke 18:18ff). The Lord’s disciples had the same misunderstanding about the incident as some today, and Christ explained to them that the young man not only had but trusted in his riches (Mark 10:23, 24; I Timothy 6:17-19).

The universal Christian obligation is not to take on voluntary poverty and homelessness. Even that, without the proper motive, would amount to nothing (I Corinthians 13:3). The obligation is universal, however, to be willing to assume poverty — for Christ’s sake (Mark 8: 34-38).

This is not to dodge the issue or to hide from the facts. Rationalization in wealthy selfishness is wrong. So is self-justification in poverty. God is no respecter of persons — rich or poor. Jesus dictated at least two personal letters to early believers to get this point across to them (Revelation 2:9; 3:3-17). We should learn the same lesson today. Sometimes a vow of poverty is the easier way out, when compared to the responsibilities of being a faithful steward.

In Christ, men are not divided between the rich and the poor, the have’s and the have-not’s. Rather, all are taught to (1) work honestly, (2) give God thanks for blessings received, and (3) share blessings with those in need (Ephesians 4:28; 5:20; 1 Timothy 6:17-19; Titus 3:14). This is God’s poverty program, and all it needs is a committed people that will take it seriously.

Two thoughts in closing. This is a responsibility that can not be put off on the “church.” It is an individual responsibility and every Christian has a duty to take it seriously. And this business of stewardship and sharing is a command of God. It is as important as faith or repentance. The same Lord commanded them all.

The only question now is our own sincerity and discipleship.