MARCIA AND I have a simple philosophy when it comes to the lottery. We don’t buy a ticket unless the jackpot has grown into the mega millions—and then only one. Clearly, if our numbers were to come up, it would be a miracle.
I never actually pray for one, but I do allow myself to daydream for a few minutes about how generous I’d be with some of the winnings. And, of course, some of the ways I’d indulge myself without being too obvious about it.
Though the odds of winning are clearly miniscule, I might do better spending that fantasy time thinking not about what I’d spend the money on, but how I’d cope with the burden of bags of money.
We’ve all read the stories about how sudden wealth has proved to be a curse rather than a blessing to many people. But I suspect that, like me, you probably think, Yeah, but I wouldn’t let it affect me that way. I’m way too mature for that to happen. Just let me prove it to you, Lord.
That wasn’t the apostle Paul’s attitude, however. He knew that he needed God’s help to deal with feast as much as famine. Writing to the Philippians, he told them, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound” (4:12). In other words, there’s a right way to be in need and there’s a right way to have lots. We can do low well or badly. And we can abound well or badly.
Most of us probably pray for God’s help when money is tight, but I wonder how many of us do the same when it’s flowing freely? Yet, Paul went on, “I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (verse 12).
The idea of “facing hunger” suggests it’s a challenge, something to be taken seriously. But notice Paul first uses the same language when talking about having more than necessary.
When was the last time you thought about being well off as “facing plenty?” If I’m honest, I tend to think of it more as my due than something requiring due diligence.
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