Did you know that a Vow of Perpetual Poverty is tax deductible? How does that work? I have attempted to read the notes on the subject but it’s akin to hoping a landslide will fall into the shape of a perfectly formed square.
I discovered this when I was trying to find out a name for the practice where one wears a hair-shirt and deliberately seeks out discomfort. Apparently there isn’t a name for that – the poverty thing is as close as you get. I also discovered that Charlemagne, who “Christianised the Saxons on penalty of death”, and lived quite the opulent lifestyle, was buried in a hair-shirt. Seems a bit of a cop-out doesn’t it?
But this all got me thinking – how comfortable should a Christian be? This came about when I was eaves dropping on a conversation the like of which I would NEVER be included in. A man (who I know is a Christian) was asking for advice on “how to build his portfolio for maximum return as it seems silly to have all that cash just sitting around and not doing anything”. My first thought on “over hearing” this was to attack him bodily or at least go and let the air out of his tires. This though is due to my own perpetual poverty being thrust upon me and the envy that goes along with that.
Did you hear that? I just said I was perpetually poor and in spite of the cold hand of fear which gripped my heart when I received my property tax bill this week, I am not poor. Not in any way. Except perhaps in my relationships. There are so many things I no longer need to do because we are financially better off than in earlier years. We no longer need to rent out the basement, go all over town looking for the cheapest possible EVERYTHING, give my kids coupons fora “movie night with mum” or a “trip to Sarah’s for ice cream” as Christmas gifts. I don’t have to invite people over who I know are having a hard time, I just order them take out or deliver a meal or gift card. These are all nice things but they aren’t the stuff that makes relationships. These are easy, impersonal solutions to show both myself and the recipient (and God) that I care for those that are hurting – but if we are using comfort as a scale I am giving one of those horrible old deck chairs that are impossible to get out of, rather than a lazy-boy with massage and warming option and footrest.
I would like to say that I simply don’t have much time to spend with people – it’s not true. I sleep A LOT. Whenever possible in fact. You wouldn’t believe how much effort I make to ensure I get a nap in the afternoon! And if I have to forego a nap in order to go and be with someone I do it with all the apparent relish of a bulldog chewing on a spinach flavoured wasp.
Sometimes we’re the empty vessel, burned out by over-giving and too many commitments and we need to accept loving offers of help from others but surely it’s better to approach burn out and then rest for a while than to protect ourselves from the needs of others by hoarding our time, energy or money.
This is all a lot to think about. I’m going to go and lie down for a while with my eyes shut – just while I process it all. Goodnight. I mean – Goodbye!
And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8