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A wealth strategy...

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parallel, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” ’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12: 13-21
 
A few days ago Oxfam released its 2016 Report on global inequality. It’s on the internet and runs to 44 interesting pages. Its main thrust is to ask people in Britain and elsewhere to think about the fact that “the richest 1% now have more wealth that the rest of the world combined.” Credit Suisse did the calculations.

Oxfam has also calculated that in 2015 “just 62 individuals had the same wealth as 3,600,000,000 people - the bottom half of humanity”. Within that “bottom half”, the World Bank reports that 700,000,000 people are living today in extreme poverty on less than $1.90 (£1.30) per day. Oxfam makes the point: “The fight against poverty will not be won until the inequality crisis is tackled.”
 
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'Wealth is no mark of God’s favour. Poverty is no mark of God’s displeasure.’ (J C Ryle, writer and pastor, 1816-1900) 
Look now at the AD 30 incident reported in bold above. It’s from the first-century biography of Jesus written by Luke, a physician. A miffed man in the crowd asks Jesus to instruct his brother to divide an inheritance with him. Jesus then warns the whole crowd about covetousness. It could well be that the miffed man was “right”. That is not the point. The point has to do with everyone in the crowd – are any of you covetous? If so, “take care and be on your guard”.

Why? Well, one reason could be the thought behind an ancient statement of Isaiah around BC 700. He lived in Jerusalem and one small part of his message to the LORD’s people Israel was this – “Woe to those who join house to house, who add field to field, until there is no more room, and you are forced to dwell alone in the midst of the land.”

Some may argue that, when I “have more wealth” it doesn't mean that others have less. The Oxfam report explains – “In the 5 years since 2010 the wealth of the 62 individuals has risen by 45% …. Meanwhile, the wealth of the bottom half fell by … 38%.” The reason? Basically, the wealthy know how to arrange their affairs…. Their governments and politicians are also keen to raise the total GVA (Gross Value Added) of their country, not of the external poor.

Was the Lord Jesus Christ correct in his parallel? ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” ’

With this strategy, it becomes necessary that Europe (and Jersey?) seals its borders against economic migrants. Against the “bottom half” 3,600,000,000?

If we go back a few centuries before Isaiah to around 1350 BC, we find that the LORD God – the Father to whom Christians pray – made a rule for his people (which they did not adhere to for very long). The LORD prescribed that every 50 years there would be a Jubilee Year. In that year two things would take place; first, all land (theirs was primarily an agricultural society) would revert to the descendants of the original owning family; second, all debts would be cancelled. Every 50 years all individuals made a fresh start.

Jersey is engaged in holding in trust for future generations, the present (and increasing) wealth of individuals resident all over the world. Not even death can halt the accumulation of wealth. Jersey’s Trusts Law now states, “No rule against perpetuities or excessive accumulations shall apply to a trust..” 
 
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‘The Saviour of sinners knows what it is to be poor.’ (J C Ryle, writer and pastor, 1816-1900)
OK. But that’s not the real problem. Jesus set out the real problem. He put forward the parallel not because of injustice or unfairness but because a wealth strategy has an even greater terminal danger. 

It’s this; with a wealth strategy I am unlikely to be “rich toward God”. Now that – that above all - is really and truly dire…..
 
Richard Syvret

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