The Haves and the Have-Nots

by Tank Tankersley

I occupy the former category – big time!  Many reading these words have been similarly blessed, and it is to them that these remarks are directed, not to those who are counting every penny, for they should feel no shame at being unable to help others as much as I know many of them would if only they could.  “For if there first be a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not” (2 Corinthians 8:12).

The economy is in dire straits.  That sad reality has not affected me financially, but it has caused me to examine myself as to my attitude concerning money, the things it will buy, and the like.  And I do not like what I see.

I like books, but I already own more than I could read in ten lifetimes.  So why do I buy more?  Couldn’t that money be better spent?

I like classical music, but I’ve got hundreds of recording and have not yet listened to them all.  So why buy more?  Couldn’t that money be better spent?

I like the room in which I read my books and listen to my recordings, and I like all the little decorative trinkets (Sylvia Scott would call them sit-abouts) that adorn it.  But I’m about out of room, so why buy more?  Couldn’t that money be better spent?

I like eating in restaurants, and every once in a while Pat and I will eat in a really nice one.  Is a forty-dollar steak more satisfying than a two-dollar hamburger?  Certainly!  But twenty times as satisfying?  I doubt it.  And before the next day dawns, the thrill is gone.  Couldn’t that money be better spent?

There’s a vending machine in the building in which my office is located.  Over the years I’ve pushed hundreds, perhaps thousands of dollars into that thing, and I doubt that either hunger or thirst was typically the motivation.  I suspect it was one of those “because it was there” sort of transactions.  Couldn’t that money have been better spent?

Please do not misunderstand.  I am not suggesting that we turn off the heat, turn off the lights, dress in rags, eat only gruel, and never go anywhere or do anything.  I am not suggesting that we forswear all pleasures and renounce all good times.

But shouldn’t those of us who have so much and live in a world in which so many have so little reflect upon the proper use of the bounty with which God has blessed us?

I like “really weird” scriptures;  that is, scriptures that are completely at odds with the tenor of the times.  Here’s one of the weirdest: “…working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” (Ephesians 4:28).  Say what?  Work to make money to help others?  Helping others as a motivation for work?  That borders on the un-American, doesn’t it?  Everyone knows that the reason to work is to make money to buy more stuff.  Well, this rich Christian can spend less and give more.  Can you?

Tank Tankersley, January 26, 2009