20God blesses his loyal people,
but punishes all who want
to get rich quick.
21It isn't right to be unfair,
but some people can be bribed
with only a piece of bread.
22Don't be selfish
and eager to get rich—
you will end up worse off
than you can imagine.
The indiscriminate pursuit of wealth is problematic, and a thread throughout the Bible. And more often than not there are repercussions for the wicked who exploit their economic power unfairly. In contrast the “loyal people”, the “fair people” and the “unselfish people” can expect blessing. It’s a “them” and “us” thing.
Now look through the lens of globalization. It is well documented that the regions where the Church is growing significantly and where the majority of Christians live today is in the Global South. Last year the UK charity Oxfam calculated that 80% of the world’s population had access to only about 5.5% of its wealth – and they live, mostly, in the Global South. This means that the majority of loyal Christian people, as Philip Jenkins has pointed out (The Next Christendom, OUP, 2002) are the “poor, hungry, persecuted and dehumanized.” It doesn’t feel particularly like blessing.
You could say that over the centuries those of us in the Global North have become quite partial to the good life afforded by economic growth – after all it’s only a “piece of bread.” And it has made the Global North economically and politically powerful. But also stingy.
The call is to generosity – not to egalitarianism – and to bless and be blessed by giving, and to avoid the ultimate poverty of accumulation.
God of the poor, I thank you for all the people who believe in you throughout the world. I pray that you will ever meet them in their need whatever it is. Please sensitize me to play my part in meeting others’ needs. Amen.