I don’t feel like a rich person. In fact, I’m struggling just like the rest of you to meet my mortgage, cover the utility bills, pay my insurances, maintain the cars, and still have room for groceries in the budget. However, in many ways I’m blessed beyond measure. Our family has a little bit of land. We’ve just finished planting a decent size orchard, and we’re getting the garden underway. My husband hunts, so our freezer is full of meat.
The neighbors look at us askance, and ask in all seriousness, “What are you going to do with all that food?” They see our vegetable garden and the fruit trees going in and they cannot fathom for one moment what measure of lunacy has possessed us. According to them, on the eighth day God created Winn Dixie and it was good. If we want food, we can get it from the grocery store. They see no value in the chicken coop going up at the bottom of the hill from our house.
Wealth as Defined by the World
It should come as no surprise that the world defines wealth as the accumulation of material things. It is a barometer of comfort, and a yardstick of what you can afford to do and buy. While the size of one’s bank account is a factor in the evaluation of wealth, many times that notion of richness is illusionary. In many circumstances a person’s net worth is simply an accounting gimmick on paper, with inflated values assigned to assets, and debts and loans hidden in a morass of bookkeeping.
In fact, the Bible says this material accumulation is an exercise in futility. As we gain more, we desire more. “The lover of money never has enough money; the lover of luxury never has enough income” (Ecclesiastes 5:10). My neighbors have made their choices. It’s evident in the motor homes, the bass boats, and the monstrous homes that they live in. They spend their money on plants and shrubs for their yards, putting in hydrangeas, hostas, azalea bushes, ferns, crepe myrtles, and all sorts of ornamental lawn decorations.
When the subject of laying food by comes up, we’re dismissed with a wave of the hands. “Oh, I don’t have time for that sort of thing,” one of my neighbors states emphatically. Yet you see her in her yard every day of the week—mowing, weeding, and planting yet another bush or tree.
There is nothing in the nature of wealth and the accumulation of things that can provide happiness. I see this in the stricken look on the face of one of my neighbors when he realizes he’s going to have to fork out the money for a new septic system. He shakes his head and mutters, “This house is killing me. I never should have bought it.” It’s a beautiful thing, but it’s a sinkhole for money.
However, taken individually, and by worldly standards, each one of my neighbors is a success. They have the showcase house, the 2.5 kids, and park in their driveway because their garages are so full of stuff there’s no room for their cars.
God calls this kind of wealth deceptive. “If I have made gold my trust or called fine gold my confidence, if I have rejoiced because my wealth was abundant or because my hand found much…I would have been false to God above” (Job 31:24-25, 28b).
Luke 12:16-21 goes even further. “Then Jesus used this story: ‘There was a rich man that had some land. His land grew a very good crop of food. The rich man thought to himself, “What will I do? I have no place to keep all my crops.” Then the rich man said, “I know what I will do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger barns! I will put all my wheat and good things together in my new barns. Then I can say to myself, I have many good things stored. I have saved enough for many years. Rest, eat, drink, and enjoy life!” But God said to that man, “Foolish man! Tonight you will die. So what about the things you prepared for yourself? Who will get those things now?” This is how it will be for the person that saves things only for himself. To God that person is not rich.’”
Wealth as Defined by God
God’s idea of wealth and the use of that wealth are vastly different. Yes, He talks about possessions as wealth throughout the Bible—home, family, food, animals, gold, silver, precious gems, etc. But it’s the use of those things that makes the difference. Never are we given much simply to hoard, gloat, or become self-satisfied. We are given wealth and benefits so that we might be a blessing to others. If in our drive for security through preparedness we find ourselves with fisted hands, clinging tenaciously to whatever we believe is ours, we will find ourselves on the losing end of a battle.
And we won’t like the outcome.
I asked my husband the other night, “Do you feel we’ve been given what we have so that we can bless others? Is God calling us to a ministry yet in the future with what we’re doing today?” While he answered without hesitation, “Yes,” he took it one step further. While he has less sympathy toward people who have the option to prepare and don’t, preferring their ornamentals to practicality in the face of today’s economy, he said that he felt our biggest contribution right now was to start the discussion about preparedness, to plant the seed.
He said that so few people have any skills to get them through an economic depression of any sort. He said he felt it was given to us to start discussing things like self-sufficiency, canning, hunting, etc.—anything and everything to do with being prepared—and start teaching others the skills we have learned. He said how could we call ourselves Christians if we didn’t concern ourselves not just with the spiritual aspect of people’s lives, but the physical as well?
And that’s when I realized what our true wealth was. It wasn’t in the land we’ve worked or the house we live in. It wasn’t in the tractor or the tiller, or any of those things that, while helping to feed us, can be gone in a moment with the next hurricane or tornado. All those possessions can be gone in a day. Our true wealth lays in the knowledge we have accumulated, the things we’ve learned that can help us survive no matter what happens. And just as God has always sent a Noah or a Joseph or any one of the prophets to prepare a way before disaster, He is sending Christian preppers today not just to sound the alarm, but to impart the knowledge and skills needed to make it through a natural disaster, an economic collapse, or any other scenario you can imagine.
However, God has not just blessed us with abundance in material wealth and knowledge, but in partnering with Him to continue the work of salvation. Salvation is a two-fold process. As physical creatures, we need to feel that God understands us in our humanity. However, God knows that our greatest need is spiritual. He has given His people wisdom and skills so that we can bless others, not just in addressing their physical needs but in tending to their spiritual nourishment as well, and in so doing, reflect the love that God Himself has for His creation.
From those who have been given much, much is expected. Look at your life. Look at your blessings. Look at the knowledge and skills you have to impart. We were created with the capacity for charity and compassion, and with our new birth in Christ, with the ability to love as God loves, without measure and recklessly.
Care recklessly. Start the conversation. Push the envelope.
You may be the only voice in the wilderness that your neighbors will ever hear.