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Poverty and perspective

By Scott Tibbs, February 11, 2008

We see it on the news all the time: the economy is tanking and it is becoming more difficult to get by. Opinion polls show that people are worrying about their future, and even those who do not worry about their own personal finances are worried about their neighbors. How can it be that Americans in general are more pessimistic and cynical than ever, given that we live in a time of unprecedented economic prosperity, dramatic advances in personal health and more? Do we have no sense of perspective? Do we only see to the end of our noses?

Granted, there are people in trouble. This has always been the case and always will be the case. Too many people live beyond their means. The so-called "crisis" of subprime loans is an example of this. People are enticed by the low monthly payments early in the loan, but are unprepared for the inevitable sharp increase in their monthly mortgage payments. Banks hold blame as well for making these risky loans.

But the bottom line is that we in America have absolutely no idea how blessed we are. We have no idea what true poverty is, even many of those who claim to be poor. We're rich, healthy and comfortable beyond the wildest imaginations of the vast majority of people throughout history, and the vast majority of people around the world.

We've been blessed, but that blessing has also been a curse to our souls. It is easy for an American to say he does not need the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. After all, we have more than enough food, clothes, a home, cable TV, internet access and so on and so forth. Don't we have all that we need? Our Lord painted a perfect picture of American culture today when He said it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to to go Heaven (Matthew 19:24).

Our wealth is our god. We (Americans generally) should be thanking our Father in heaven continuously for the innumerable blessings He has given us, because there is no doubt that God has been blessing and protecting this nation since we seceded from England in 1776. But do we thank God for all He has give us? Do we even realize how blessed we are? Or are we unsatisfied and unhappy because we want more?

Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. Haggai 1:6