Unrighteous Republicans, Lazy Democrats


I was talking with some friends this week. Since we are in Orange County and since conversation here always goes toward real estate (plus we were in a new house) we started talking about the real estate crash. Locally many people have lost their jobs because of the crash and, although this group is strongly opinionated anyway, there were strong opinions about the appropriateness around any sort of government bail-out of the people involved.

It also turns out that these men are also attempting to follow Christ in their lives. Eventually our conversation shifted to the moral culpability of the real estate crash. This reminded me about the distinction between rich and poor vs. righteous and unrighteous.

A lot of time when Christians talk about rich and poor they confuse that discussion with a discussion of righteous and unrighteous. Usually the way it works is that someone decides that they are either rich or poor and then equates being righteous with the position they are in. So the rich business man talks about the poor as being lazy, stupid and reaping the natural rewards of sinning. While the "poor" service employee talks about the rich as oppressive nickel and dimers who are sinning by oppressing them. They will often point to Jesus as being poor and therefore poverty must be a sign of righteousness and wealth a sign of moral bankruptcy.

But the Bible doesn't equate those two pairs. It acknowledges all four combinations: The rich righteous, the rich unrighteous, the poor righteous, the poor unrighteous.

  • The rich righteous: These people are wise investors, insightful, hard working, often generous, whom God has chosen to bless financially so that they can be a blessing to others. Example:
    • Proverbs 31 Woman:
      • 31:17 She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.
      • 31:18 She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.
    • Centurion from Acts 10:
      • 10:1At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment.
      • 10:2 He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.
      • 10:3 One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, "Cornelius!"
      • 10:4 Cornelius stared at him in fear. "What is it, Lord?" he asked. The angel answered, "Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.
      • 10:5 Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter.
  • The rich unrighteous: These people are rich because they extort and oppress people for the sake of a profit. Example:
    • The oppressors in Nehemiah 5
      • 10:9 So I continued, "What you are doing is not right. Shouldn't you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies?
      • 10:10 I and my brothers and my men are also lending the people money and grain. But let the exacting of usury stop!
      • 10:11 Give back to them immediately their fields, vineyards, olive groves and houses, and also the usury you are charging them—the hundredth part of the money, grain, new wine and oil."
  • The poor unrighteous: These are people who are poor because they are lazy, make bad decision upon bad decision, foolish, run with other fools.Example:
    • The sluggard in Proverbs 6
      • 6:6 Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!
      • 6:7 It has no commander, no overseer or ruler,
      • 6:8 yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.
      • 6:9 How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep?
      • 6:10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest-
      • 6:11 and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.
  • The poor righteous: People who are humble, called to do things which entail poverty, work hard, are not lazy, who God chooses to bless in other ways then finances. Sometimes these are people who are called to suffering because they are able to give God glory through the process. Example:
    • Jesus
      • Matthew 8:20 Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."
    • Paul
      • 1 Corinthian 4:11 To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it;

So I think the point is reflective. Where do you think you fall? Are you rich because you are an oppressor or because you are blessed? Are you poor because it is your calling or because you are lazy?

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