Although in our time, with the extreme disparity between ultra-rich and ultra-poor that we are aware of, wealth and prosperity have become words with a negative association in many peoples’ minds, in the ancient Near Eastern biblical texts, wealth and prosperity are seen as blessings, “every man under his own vine,” a security for the survival and safety of your family, a hedge against famine and weather. It is only, as a West Virginia great-grandmother recently put it, “ill-gotten gain” that is critiqued as a sin against the poor and their Creator. That, and fairly acquired wealth, but without a concern for those in need. As I explored briefly in the last post, the ancient scriptures have quite a few examples of men and women of wealth and property who are held up as examples of uprightness in God’s eyes, as they use their means as a way to help those in dire straits; the orphan, widow, poor, and foreigner. A more recent example of this I came across years ago, is this memorial plaque from England describing a man of means who saw his wealth as a tool given by God for the betterment of the world. It reads as follows:
CHRIST IS ALL
In Memory of Robert Holden Esq.
Of Nuthall Temple, born July 24 1805.
A monument of grace.
A noble example to the rich,
And an unfailing friend to the poor.
He lived in holiness before God
And great usefulness to man
And fell asleep in Jesus November 11 1872.