Tonight I read stories in the Wall Street Journal about all sorts of wealthy people. People who had money, and people who wanted money. About one young woman, a fast-talker, who founded a company that invented a little box that could test your blood and do amazing things for your good health. Reputable people bought into it and invested wildly in what this young woman said her invention could do.
Apparently, she knew it didn't work, but she looked people in the eye and never blinked. Told them all sorts of wonderful things about her little box. She made people believe her, trust her, invest hugely in her scheme, till finally she was caught, and exposed. She peddled trust and sold nothing for millions.
We live in a world that wants to make money - that is fascinated by the plots and plans of people to make money, and win power.
I've also been reading the lives of great national leaders in America - Ulysses S. Grant, Harry Truman, and now, of Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and a "golden age of journalism."
In every story of these lives there was privilege and power, poverty and slums. "Teddy" Roosevelt and Will Taft were both sons of privilege, with parents who encouraged and provided for them. Harry Truman grew up working hard on his family's farm, living close to the earth, and learning by working, by trying and failing. He not only did not have a college education, he hadn't a high school education either! But, he read, every day - all kinds of books. Those books, and the people around him, were his classes and his education.
All these people learned at home, about giving. You gave because God had given to you. So you passed on the blessing to others. You shared what you had.
It was obvious to all of them, that those who had plenty often had unfair advantages, and that the very wealthy had gain that was "ill-gotten."
The struggle for all of them, in the Presidency, was how to make it fair. How could advantages come to those without them?
I am struck by how unsuccessful we've been. Donald Trump came representing the factory workers of the Rust Belt. He talked of preserving jobs. Of forcing off-shore companies to come home. He seemed to represent "the Common Man."
But the tax "reforms" he signed seemed to benefit far more the people of wealth and power. His story is remarkably like that of President Teddy Roosevelt. We need somehow to be wiser in who we choose to make these decisions as a nation.
But, in the meantime, we need to look around and see that we ourselves are in that top 1 - 5% of America's and the world's wealthiest people. We have endlessly more than most people on the earth. We are not among the poor.
We care about the poor. We want to help them and change the balance, but we are still among the privileged of the world. We own cars, TVs, cell phones, houses, - often a "cabin up north," too -
But, how can we be generous? How can we help those who have little? Here, and across the world?
We can see our wealth in a new way: That it isn't ours. It's all a gift from God. He has set us in pleasant places. He has surrounded us with family and friends who help us.
We can count the poor of the world as part of our stewardship. We can take seriously the Biblical tithe as a minimal standard of our giving. Many Christians give at levels of 1 or 2%. Think how much more 10% could be. Or 20% or 30%.
The hard thing is to decide who should receive our gifts. There are organizations that bear the Gospel to the world. They are funded solely by people like us. There are schools teaching the way of Christ to young people. We could help them.
We could ask God to show us who needs our help. Like the churches we love. The missions we know personally. The work for good we have to believe in. Supporting God's people doing His work is a good place for us to start.
Let our giving be honest. Let us help children and friends. Let us give in prayer. Let us allow God to show us how to give what is His, but which we are called to manage. When we are on track, the giving will be a great joy.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES