“If I Were a Rich Man”

“If I Were a Rich Man”

March 15, 2017

The title of this “Ponder” comes from a song in “Fiddler on the Roof.” Surely no one would question why the hard-working father with five daughters would dream of how his life might be different if he had a lot of money. His meager income as a dairyman hardly met expenses, but he was generous in small ways.

As I watch the movie, I wonder what he had in mind when envisioning being rich. To a young child, a ten-dollar bill might make them feel rich. To a millionaire, the definition might be a billion dollars. And in many parts of Planet Earth, a bottle of water, a sandwich and a warm, safe place to sleep would feel like riches.

First Timothy 6:8 reminds us that contentment is possible if we have food and clothing. I suppose anything more than that could be considered riches. In that context, the father in the movie was a rich man. His family was housed and fed, and they appeared to be somewhat content with their life experience.

I have been thinking about the poverty in the world. In comparison to many people groups, Americans are well cared for – although I realize there are hunger issues in this country as well. The issue becomes personally convicting when I admit that I have far more than the needed food and clothing for today.

It is easy for me to think of what I would do for hurting people if I were a rich man. But unless I share what I have now, most likely I would not share more generously if I had a lot more. I believe the milkman in the movie was actually a rich man. And compared to the wealthy butcher, who lived alone, the milkman had a rich life that could be envied. He had a wife, daughters, a home and a sense of usefulness. I would want him for my friend, but I am not so sure about the butcher.

As I read the Gospels, I hear Jesus commending people who understood riches to be more than material possessions. People mattered to Him – we all do. And our eternal destiny was His reason for being here. Knowing Him makes us truly rich, and sharing His Story – often by sharing what He has trusted to our management – fulfills our reason for being here as well.

Pastor Bill Ehmann

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