“Know well the condition of your flocks,
and give attention to your herds;
for riches do not last forever,
nor a crown for all generations.”
~Proverbs 27:23-24 (NRSV)
“There is no fixed road to wealth, and goods do not stay with the same master forever.”
~Sima Qian (ca. 145/135 b.c.e. – 86 b.c.e.)
Proof of the only true abundance is this—material abundance is fleeting. It lasts the majority of wealthy families, besides royalty and dynasties, less than 100 years—the equivalent of three generations.
There is a better wealth to be gleaned from life; a wealth of true prosperity. It is the spiritual commodity of abundance.
Knowing What To Receive, What To Chase, And What To Reject
If there is one thing we’re empowered to do it is to attract the right thing and repel the wrong thing.
In present sight, we wish to attract and magnify spiritual riches and repel our reliance on riches of material or worldly value. A truth about the latter is compelling: those who have attracted material wealth may have done so through no fixed wisdom other than hard work and the capitalisation of opportunity. It is equally swept away by misfortune or bad luck, which is only later known for cause and so often cannot be predicted.
If we would chase something we cannot ultimately master, it is a shallow chase. That which guarantees a depth of reward far truer in the eternal sense is a better choice to go after.
The spiritual commodity of abundance is not necessarily the flat-out rejection of material abundance for its own sake, but it is wise enough to understand the things that are fleeting in this life—success, numbers, past performance, material wealth, and even opportunity—and equally wise about the things that never end; those that pile-up to blessing.
The development of our characters, the outlay of time and love in our relationships, and our focus on God; these are the real riches. Upon these are investments that will never wane and will never sour, so long as we tend to them. Upon these are sourced, true peace and contentment—if we would centre our focus on them and not on what is fleeting.
Challenging Ourselves Regarding The Focus Of Our Lives
We will all find prosperity and abundance and things suchlike to be gregariously attractive. We are wired to want success and to avoid failure; one sees us elevated in the company of life, whilst the other ends in our embarrassment and shame.
But life is more than success and failure—as it is defined in human terms.
God turns these concepts upside down, by the fact that the Lord’s success is not vaunted by humankind, and divine failure might be reconciled as success in many human terms.
We have the choice. Do we run with the pack, competing and cajoling for a place in this world, even within the Christian ministry setting (where worldly success is often just as rampant), or do we seek God in any event? The former is veiled with disappointment; the latter is poised for a secret form of success—the blessings of the Lord of being hidden with Christ in God.
Abundance is a tricky concept, as the only true abundance is a spiritual commodity. Success is placing our focus on ‘wealth’ within actual grasp, not on those things over the fence. Life is closer than we think.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.