Make me neither poor nor rich

One of Confucius’ wise quotes states: “The superior man is aware of righteousness, the inferior man is aware of advantage”. From this can be deduced reality in that the superior man is spiritual. The inferior man, being physical, is governed according to natural laws. He requires observing those natural laws, if in need of satisfaction.

What drives an individual to accumulate wealth is self-centeredness. However, there are lessons from nature, if life on earth is to be purposeful. A fruit plant produces fruits to feed fruit-eaters, and not to feed itself. The sunshine is not for the sun, but for those benefiting from sunlight.

Likewise, human survival makes sense, only when providing for others. In his crooked condition, man assumes that life is about providing for self. Aware of exposure to deception and degradation, the writer of Proverbs was inspired to record a workable discourse, but for physical humans.

“Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonour the name of my God” (Proverbs 30:8-9 NIV).

Many things are pleasant to observe, but many things are also not pleasant to observe. Normal people desire to enhance what would be pleasant and suppress what would be unpleasant. Unfortunately, many people assume that happiness is possible when prejudicing other people.

But, happiness is possible only when others are happy, in one’s environment. This is why comedians are commonly observed as happy people. This portrays the behaviour of innate laws governing nature, where humans are left with choices to make.

The biggest challenge for humans is the failure to agree on standards that regulate relationships. What is favoured by one could be unacceptable to another. However, what is acceptable to the majority is commonly problematic to the principles of living.

Humanity is divided between the sane and the insane. The weirdest things are that offbeat conditions are commonly acceptable to the majority. Ordinary humans are often discouraged from pursuing righteous actions. What is disliked by most people, commonly, produces acceptable results.

Those pursuing wrong actions are commonly accepted more than those pursuing righteousness. The phenomenon of wealth accumulation originates from self-centeredness. But, rarely are wealthy people graced with joy and happiness. Their greatest challenge lies in the instinctive drive to preserve their accumulated wealth.

The security of their wealth becomes problematic, thereby, taking away their freedom. The reason why wealthy people are stingy is their insatiable desire to preserve their accumulated wealth. Another law of nature is that generating wealth; generates risks, at the same time.

However, when guided by natural laws an individual can access happiness. Life requires neither over-performing nor underperforming.  For instance, running at an excessive speed, without stopping, can cause death. Yet, on the other hand, it is impossible for one to just stand still, forever, without risking death.

Life requires moderation when desiring to live longer or draw some durable satisfaction. Wealthy people experience difficulty, sharing with others, because their wealthy condition causes adoration, from their peers. This life is commonly attractive when influencing other people.

Generally, celebrities are trendsetters, because they influence people, to some degree. A person is viewed favourably, as long as he influences others. Humanity gets more attracted to trendsetters than reason.

There is power in wealth, causing being taken seriously, whether uttering what is reasonable or unreasonable. Wealthy people control the current civilization. The reason why people aim at achieving maximum wealth is the power of influence going with it, generated from wealthy conditions.

In South Africa, the Oppenheimas and other tycoons, are said to be controlling the South African economy. In America, Rockefellers are also rumoured to be in charge of American traditions. Wealthy people are commonly not active in politics, yet they influence the control and behaviour of a government.

Regardless of how reasonable a poor person might be, whatever he says does not hold water. However, whatever a wealthy person suggests, whether right or wrong, is adopted, even without sufficient evaluation. This highlights how worldly conditions are sustained.

Zimbabwe has attempted to build its own cartels in the form of Strive Masiyiwa, Kuda Tagwirei, and others. The government uses those cartels to exercise its manipulative influence. Those billionaires could influence a certain trajectory, whether acceptable to human survival or not.

They can be the custodians of a certain narrative, sustaining the importance of an adopted philosophical ideology. In short, there is power in money, rather than in reason. This reveals how people are enslaved by wealthy influencers. This is why Jesus insinuated that money is God’s competitor.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:19-24 NIV).

Jesus was addressing all forms of corruption; which cause setting criminals free while incarcerating innocent people. With money; one can buy one’s freedom from a corrupt judicial system. Serious crimes have been trivialized, through corruption. This projects another reason, motivating the idea of wealth accumulation for oneself.

Unbeknown to many people is that it is through the influence of such Billionaires that a country can be led astray or led to prosperity. There are few governments that disregard influence from billionaires, who are not, necessarily, politicians, but influencing politicians.

This is how humanity is subjected to slavery. Only on rare occasions do we have freed beings. Ordinary people behave according to what is acceptable in the environment, such as feeling insecure, when thinking independently.

Ordinary humans can be violent when living in a violent background, but become peaceful when living in a peaceful environment. There are certain behavioural patterns that permeate societies, but are adopted from the influence of individuals, considered trendsetters.

We live in a world characterized by cowards, who cannot be able to stand for what they consider to be right. They copy from role models, rather than be themselves. That is what has caused others to relegate their reasoning capacity when following after wealthy people in society.

“My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favouritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say ‘Here’s a good seat for you,’ but say to the poor man, ‘You stand there’ or ‘Sit on the floor by my feet,’ have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?” (James 2:1-4 NIV).

The above passage shows what is common among ordinary humans, who treat others according to perceptions. This projects what causes the desire to become wealthy. This is also why most people aim at acquiring expensive clothes. The purpose would be to create an impression of being wealthy, to meet the desirable public opinion.

However, James reveals this as coming from evil thoughts. This describes the origins of evil, in this world. Each person was peculiarly created according to God’s design. But few people can be courageous enough to stand by their God-given principles.

This is what leads to desiring wealth, which may not be wrong. But accumulating more than necessary creates unintended problems. The average longevity of humanity is seventy years.  What’s wrong with investing one’s wealth, promoting goodwill, rather than investing toward becoming Billionaires, before succumbing to death?

What is the purpose of keeping billions, when the world is filled with people in abject poverty? The only projected reason for that behaviour is, wrongly, elevating one’s own profile to influence other people.

“And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 

“The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:16-23 AKJV).

Nothing could be wrong with accumulating wealth, except the attitude. Jesus simply suggested sharing with poor people. What caused the man to walk away? If he had better ideas than those suggested by Jesus, why could he not submit his rejoinder? But, still, why did he walk away, even without better ideas, than those suggested by Jesus?

The text does not show how long the young man survived. But, suppose he died the following day? He had previously approached Jesus, desiring God’s Kingdom. If having died after rejecting God’s Kingdom, what next would happen to his wealth? Common sense suggests a man who never sincerely desired God’s Kingdom, in the first place.

Possibly, he did not know what God’s Kingdom entailed. Lack of faith causes failure to understand God’s mysteries. The person would be having an insufficient understanding of what God’s Kingdom entails. But, at the same time, holding a scanty idea of what physical life involves.

Lack of faith suggests existing between two opinions, but uncertain about both of those opinions. This describes surviving in a condition that does not demand radicalism. Understandably, surviving in physical flesh commonly requires avoiding extremes, which is different from surviving spiritually.

“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see” (Revelation 3:14-18 RSV).

Radicalism is of the spirit. A physical person prefers settling in between two opposites. A physical person feels safer when maintaining the position of neither poor nor rich. Such a person would be kept in a humble condition, as poor in spirit. When grace comes, his redemption is guaranteed.

“Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonour the name of my God” (Proverbs 30:8-9 NIV).

The above passage clarifies what the preacher sought to put across. But the proverb is not applicable to God’s children, in whose lives, Christ would be dwelling. (Galatians 2:20). The Scripture that applies to God’s children would be Revelation 3:14-18. Ignorantly, people, assume to be Christ’s followers, yet they wrongly adopt Proverbs 30:8-9, as if applicable to them.

Ordinary humans can be encouraged to be neither rich nor poor. However, the followers of Jesus are advised to be as radical, as Jesus was also radical. Choosing to live in the flesh can still be ideal, as long as aware of the deception driven by the desire to accumulate wealth.

Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. Most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope, in a simple conversational tone.

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