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Things Broke People Do

Nov 25 2013
We're not the only ones responsible for our financial state.

Three Her.meneutics writers reflect on the difficulty of poverty and some misguided beliefs about the poor.

The Problem with Lists

Caryn Rivadeneira

For the longest time I wondered why God allowed me—and my family—to go broke. After so many cries for rescue, after so many laments, after so many opportunities where God could've "fixed" our financial crisis easily, but didn't, I wondered what he was up to. Wondered why he wasn't "blessing" us with financial abundance the way he had in the past.

At long last, I figured maybe God was actually blessing us with a time in relative poverty. That maybe, God allowed us to linger in financial desperation so that we might learn something life-changing through a time of total and utter dependence on him. That maybe learning what it is to lean on God and God's people, to fully understand the beauty of asking for and receiving daily bread would be a bigger blessing than some zeroes on a savings account.

But I was wrong. At least, according to a post on Christian financial guru Dave Ramsey's site. Based on that advice, we went broke—from rich to poor—because I wasn't forcing my children to read at least two non-fiction books a month… or following those 19 other things Rich People Do Every Day that Poor People Don't.

If this is true, it makes total sense why I'm no longer rich: I may have spent two hours last night in bed with Jane Eyre, but since I did not spend 30 minutes reading something career-related, I have no hope. It doesn't help that I choose NPR over audio books or that I usually speak what's on my mind. You know, like we broke people do.

But of course, I jest. This list's truthiness isn't its biggest problem. The problem is the prevalence with which so many Christians seem to think lists like this are helpful. After all, why should Christians be so concerned with what the rich do—how they become so or how they act? According to Jesus, they are not the blessed ones. They have the harder time finding the Kingdom.

While some of the items on the list make common sense (reading more of anything is always a good thing), if in my most desperate financial need someone handed me this list and told me to hop to it, I'd never seen Jesus poking through these words. Not like I saw him peek out when friends handed us stacks of grocery store gift cards or family members sent checks—with no repayment expectation. There, I saw love. There, I saw grace, There, I saw Jesus. In the gifts, not the lists.

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