Inspired by Proverbs 30:1-9
“Two things I ask of you; do not deny them to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that I need, or I shall be full, and deny you, and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ or I shall be poor, and steal, and profane the name of my God.” Proverbs 30:7-9 (NRSV)
The so-called ‘prosperity gospel’ claims that if you follow God in a prescribed way, he will bless you with earthly riches and success. At the other end of the spectrum, some Christians believe that only embracing utter poverty will bring one closer to God.
Yet these words of Agur son of Jakeh in the book of Proverbs show a more tempered approach, as well as a recognition of how either extreme can drive us from the Lord our God. He prays that the Lord will give him neither poverty nor riches. How many of us pray that prayer? Yet he prays it because he recognizes that with abundant riches he may begin to trust in those riches as his deliverance and lose sight of the fact that they are a gift from God. And he prays it because he recognizes the utter desperation faced by those in poverty, and fears that that desperation would cause him to lose trust in the Lord and steal for his own survival.
Instead he prays that the Lord will feed him with the food he needs. In other words, he wants just enough to meet his needs, no more, no less, and he hopes to recognize that the hand of God is meeting those needs. How much more peace and justice would exist in the world if we all earnestly strove for just what we needed, and recognized that those needs were being met by God?
Let us pray. God of abundance, you have created enough resources for everyone. Save us from both poverty and wealth, that we may trust in you to provide all that we need. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.