Tuesday, April 9, 2013

If I Were A Rich Man

I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.
Psalm 119:14

Recently I enjoyed watching Fiddler on the Roof again. It reminded me that movies with good story lines, outstanding cinematography and musical scores can captivate an audience without profanity or gratuitous sex scenes. My favorite part is Reb Tevye singing If I Were A Rich Man. How different his life would be. On one hand he would live in a big, ostentatious home. He wouldn’t have to work hard. His wife would be dressed in fine clothes and have servants to scream at, not him. People would seek his advice; hang on his every word even if he was clueless. On the other hand, wealth would provide him the one thing he really desired.

“If I were rich, I’d have the time that I lack
To sit in the synagogue and pray,
And maybe have a seat by the Eastern wall.
And I’d discuss the Holy Book with the learned men
Seven hours everyday.
And that would be the sweetest thing of all.”

To Reb Tevye, having unlimited time to spend studying God’s Word was the greatest thing money could buy. How that idea was promoted by Hollywood is a miracle in itself.

Imagine if someone like Bill Gates or Warren Buffet showed up at your house unannounced (I’ll send them explicit direction; GPS won’t locate me). Upon their arrival they presented you with a checkbook with an unlimited balance, drawn on their funds, to be use at your discretion. How would you feel? I get excited just thinking about the possibility! Now, do you experience the same rush when you read about tithing 10% of your income, gross not net? How about loving your enemies and doing good to those who mistreat you? Do these generate the same euphoria as the first scenario? According to the Psalmist they did. I admit it's not always like that for me.

Why not? What did David know that we don’t? If we had his attitude our lives would be more fulfilled. David wasn’t perfect; he made more than his share of mistakes. What he had was a passion for God. This desire enabled him to see past the surface of God’s Word into its hidden treasures. David grasped New Testament principles and appropriated them before their time. He continually mined God’s word for the riches buried in it. Whatever he learned he put into practice.

Would our lives be richer if we were as excited about following God as we would be about winning the lottery or receiving a blank check from one of the world’s richest men? I know mine would be. Would we pursue His commands without fear of failure and loss? Probably. There isn’t a game of chance or an individual whose wealth compares to God’s. As His children, all He has is available to us; not because we’re anyone special. He is generous. God’s not trying to take anything from us. He trying to add value back into our lives, but He needs our co-operation.

God gave us His Word. It’s our responsibility to know what it says and then obey. Our logic and reasoning may cry, “Foul! This doesn’t make any sense.” And it doesn’t make sense, it makes faith. Things won’t always feel good or comfortable. If like David, we see past the letter of the law and into the Spirit of it, we’ll have reasons to rejoice. Like Reb Tevye we’ll sing and dance because we are very wealthy men.

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