The other day, on social media, someone, an Afrikan someone, was explaining that giving away your money to relatives and friends who are seeking support was one sure way to die poor. As I read this, I started to think about what it means to die rich. After a life spent accumulating to yourself property and money, to the standard the world calls rich, you die. Not as a consequence of the accumulation, nor the attainment of the standard, but after whatever length of time allocated to you, you die and all the things are left behind.
So what’s the point? I mean, you’re dead, so whatever you counted as riches do not exist in your current realm, because you’re dead and dead men don’t bite as they say. You have transitioned to the next reality. So you’re not rich, you’re just dead. You can’t use what you accumulated. If you arranged your affairs beforehand, then the riches went to another person or, possibly, an organization. If you didn’t then either people are fighting over them, or they have reverted to the bank or government. But you died rich, so I guess that’s okay. Right?
Does this mean that, per the person’s suggestion, you held back your hand when people in need of the riches you had came to you asking for assistance, to prevent the buckets of money you had from leaking? Or maybe you withheld support when emergencies afflicting the people you loved, took them down financially. You probably shook your head at their supposed lack of planning, while you continued with your plan to die rich. Perhaps you set your face, drawing on some wisdom from a self-help guru who told you sometimes you need to shed the ‘dead-weight’ to reach your goals. You might have ignored the plight of the child in need of clothes and food, while ensuring that every single person you gave money to paid you back in full – no exceptions, no excuses, no questions. Maybe you turned down a person who was looking for ways to establish a social welfare initiative that would have benefited thousands? Because, after all, it is your money. You worked hard for it. Right? You earned every opportunity and position where you got the money from. You did the work while those other people were probably slacking off somewhere. I mean that’s why they’re not as well-off and well-prepared as you.
You pushed yourself and bought yourself a car that lost most of its value as soon as you drove off in it, but you look good in it, so it’s fine.
You slogged and bought beautiful clothes, went on holidays, filled your shoe rack and eventually created a shoe room for all your stuff. Aah, the good life! Why should anyone think that you owe them anything? They should just do what you did and die rich too. 1.2 billion Afrikans dying rich. What a glorious death, eh?
After all, if they work hard (like the handcart pusher), if they are faithful in carrying out their duties (like the minimum wage construction worker) they will have everything that you have. Won’t they?
Or maybe, for just a moment, we can consider the alternative.
Indulge me for a moment, because I believe that what has been given into our hands has been given not for the benefit of self, but all and not for our consumption for temporal things, but to be applied to the divine and eternal purposes of God. I am not saying don’t buy clothes and shoes, at least your body needs them. I’m saying, understand that what has been given to you is a privilege and not a right. I know of many people who are too incapacitated to work but they desire to. I also know of those whose lives are committed to the pursuit of beneficial activities for the society, that are not income-generating and in order for them to stay focused and on task, they need help. I’m saying consider the possibility of living with an eye and a heart for those who do not have the opportunities that you have, understanding that God is the One Who gives the power to get wealth… but the question is why?
I think we have stopped knowing what it means to be human and how that to be human also includes knowing and understanding that life and death are two sides of the same coin. But death backed up by a life lived for the betterment of humanity is truly glorious and worth emulating.
It is very common to hear people call themselves self made millionaires or self made-billionaires and which is ok really. But getting caught in the web of their ever present pride for their great achievements, they forget that it is only a man with breath in his lungs that can lay claim to anything. For he who cannot claim to be a self-created man, who cannot claim that he was not made by the breath of God should not lay hold of the foolishness of pride. For the grave he is going has no preferential treatment for either the rich or the poor. It’s all bones and smelly dust.
I am not just speaking to you alone but also much more to myself.
I lived the “my money is my money” life for many years and eventually shifted gear, thanks to God, to an understanding that I am a steward of what He gives into my hand and that what He gives into my hand comes only because He has determined that it be so and for the purposes that He deems it should be for. This means that, when provision comes, it is incumbent upon me to find out why, and what to do with it. Knowing that my supply comes from an abundant Source, Who will take care of me and Who has chosen to include me in His plans. This allows me to live free of the pressure to accumulate things, money, property and lets me walk in the ways He has chosen for me. I’m not saying God can’t make you crazy-rich. I’m saying that everything He does, He does with a purpose and we should find out why. Otherwise, you can truly have everything and have absolutely nothing at the same time. Wealth with no purpose.
One of the most beautiful things about having is being in a position to help those who do not have, not to lord it over them, but – in service to the King – to ensure that what He has in mind for each life He directs you to pour out into, will come to pass. This is living rich to die empty – not poor – but fulfilled. For what does it profit a man that he should gain the whole world, yet lose his soul? Those words haunted me for years, and then one day I discovered that they were in the Bible. I understood that God wanted me to know that there was more to life than what I had embraced and believed and that the path I was on was pointless. Until then, I had dedicated years to this path, believing everything I had been told about it was the way things should be.
When I observe what is happening in the Land of Light (a.k.a. Nigeria) right now, where people in the battle against SARS, are regarding one another’s needs as a priority, my prayer is that this becomes the norm once again for the continent of Afrika.
That it would not be a temporary state of affairs but a real concern for one another and to know who needs what and who can supply it from a place of genuine love and care would be firmly established in Nigeria and the rest of Afrika. With this kind of heart towards one another, we can overcome every single hurdle that we face ahead of us. Together.
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Chioma Phillips is the Editor of Msingi Afrika Magazine. She is also the founder of the magazine's publisher, The Knowledge Consultancy Limited, which shares information, tools and insights to provoke thought and inspire movement... towards God. Her perspective goes beyond national boundaries to see the full scope of what God is saying and doing for the continent of Africa and the world in these end times.