There are many ways to measure wellbeing, and beyond the necessities (shelter, food, clothing), there is a vast plane of grey from which our culture might determine needs versus wants. Depending on how and where you grew up, what you deem as valuable can vary greatly. In particular, these values steer how we approach all kinds of societal issues. It’s the proverbial, “But who is my neighbor?”
When wealth determines value, we will never, ever agree on what (or who) matters. Of course, we all must work to provide for our families (Genesis 3:17), but God has warned us countless times of the danger that prosperity poses for society and our souls. Jesus tells us that how well we run this race isn’t determined by what we store up for ourselves, but rather what we do “for the least of these.” Our culture of prosperity will always be in conflict with this.
Many years ago, a Christian friend said to me, “I just don’t have the spiritual gift of benevolence.” I do not believe this is a healthy assessment of our inability to give as Jesus calls us to give. It’s also just kind of a weird thing to say. If we do not desire to feed the hungry or clothe the naked, it is not because God has not equipped us to do so. We have to be willing to acknowledge how much of our own values and ethics are ingrained in us by the culture in which we live, especially as it relates to obedience to God.
As Christians, we should be the champions of sacrificial giving. There are too many people suffering for us to believe God’s blessings to us are ours to keep. Jesus assures us that the economy of Heaven works much differently and much better than that.
Read Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:3–10. Pray this prayer: “Lord, please help us anchor our lives to our faith in Jesus. Let us find all worth in the cross, and consider everything else as loss. Thank you for how You love us, and may we love all others the way You do. For the sake of Christ, Amen.”