Thursday, January 14, 2016

Contentment & Powerball

Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.

1 Timothy 6:6-11

Did someone win the 1.5 billion dollar Powerball Lottery prize? The obscene payoff was still available yesterday and lots of Canadians were figuring out how to get tickets for this American lottery. CBC radio had someone on to explain what the tax implications of a win in Canada would be, and how to best invest the money in the short term. The odds are millions to one of winning, but it's best to be prepared.

We ended up chatting about this at the breakfast table after we heard the segment. Given that we never buy tickets for any lottery our odds of winning are absolutely nil, but it sparked a conversation. I wondered if our basic values for life, rooted in our Christian faith, would be immediately and forever altered. Ruth wasn't convinced they would be, but I couldn't imagine they wouldn't. We can say all we like about making family comfortable and giving to charitable causes if we won big, but we aren't built for that sort of wealth. Many wealthy people are philanthropists, and I appreciate their generosity. Still, I have to pay attention to Jesus' admonitions about accumulating stuff, and what it does to us.

It comes down to our expectations of a good life, and our perceptions of abundance and scarcity. I enjoy a wonderful middle class Canadian lifestyle and I hear Jesus' encouragement to be generous to those on the margins. Yet I can be greedy and acquisitive just the same. I'm not convinced that I would become a better person by suddenly becoming one of the wealthy elite.

What about you? Could you handle big-time wealth? Do you fantasize about striking it big? Are you content with what you have?


roger said...

I have to admit to playing the lottery occasionally. We are happy, but we also see how much good we could do if we struck it big. My wife works with a lot of children who have physical or mental disabilities, and some of them have some real challenges at home. It would be nice to help out those children and their families.

Of course, we would take a holiday and spend some ourselves, but you could really change some lives with so much money. As much as I love sports, I sometimes imagine the incredible effect that would result if all those millionaire athletes were to give even 1% of their earnings to charity. Just how many millions do they need?

David Mundy said...

I'm convinced that the world will be bettered by a million people giving $100 a whole lot faster than one person giving a hundred million dollars. After all, those of us who live middle class lifestyles in this country have won the lottery, and we should respond accordingly. I've had several congregants win substantial amounts through the years -- at least two winning more than $100,000. They weren't exactly lavish in spreading it around. Just some thought!

Judy said...

If I won a lottery, David, our sanctuary would get painted immediately!But I don't buy tickets either!

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