Posted in street of gold, tribulation, wealth

Wealth is relative

Photo Wikimedia. Our plate had only two claws on it.

Some time ago, I went out to dinner with my husband and a well-heeled couple. The rich couple were hosting some clients. We all ate at a very high-end restaurant in Miami. We had attentive waiters, there were plush carpets, an extensive wine list…one of those places. I remember ordering the stone crab claw appetizers for $30 per plate, and this was in the 1990s.

Growing up, I never paid attention to money much. We always had a lot of it. I thought it was important to be frugal, though, and moderate with money, and to be generous. But as to the amounts, I didn’t pay attention. It was always there.

In my early adult years I owned a home and had a professional job, and not a lot of debt except the house. I liked earning my own money and paying for things in a timely manner. I guess you could say that I was a regular person in my relationship to money and personal wealth.

Now of course, the economy in America has changed and many people are struggling, even if they are lucky enough to have a job. “The working poor” I think the term is.  Wikipedia explains:

While poverty is often associated with joblessness, a significant proportion of the poor in the US and Canada, but also Italy, Spain, and Ireland are actually employed. The wages the working poor receive are insufficient to provide basic necessities and lead to people making choices between having food on the table or having a table. Largely because they are earning such low wages, the working poor face numerous obstacles that make it difficult for many of them to find and keep a job, save up money…

So back to the long-ago fancy dinner in Miami. The bill came to well over $600. I was amazed that one evening’s entertainment could be so expensive. I remarked as such to the host (a person with I was very familiar, so we could speak familiarly). He said, “It’s like this. You go out and spend $60 and it’s not so much money to you, because of your income. I go out and spend $600 and to me it is not so much, because of my income. It’s only another zero.”

He said that in 1998, and I remember it today. “It’s only another zero.”

The coming Tribulation will widen the gap between the working poor, who will simply become the poor, and the rich. There will be extreme wealth (Rev 18:3) and extreme poverty (Rev 6:6).

The extremely wealthy will trade in ivory and gems and spices and men. The poor will work all day for a loaf of bread.

However the relativity of wealth even then will be able to be comprehended. The people eating bread will glare at the large limos gliding by, the wealthy eating in restaurants, and the money traded as ships come in. “It’s only another zero” will still be comprehensible.

However, the wealth I am thinking of is incalculable.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5)

There are not enough zeroes in the world to comprehend the treasure that awaits His children.

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)

The inheritance is our salvation come to full fruition in the eternal state. Oh, yes, we will receive physical inheritance, in terms of rewards, and a place in His Father’s house prepared for us, and we will dwell where there are magnificent jewels and a street of gold. That is not the inheritance I am speaking of. That is like what we think of on earth when we inherit the grandmother’s jewels or mom’s house or dad’s roadster.

What we inherit is salvation, and then we inherit Christ. He is the unique jewel of the universe, distinct in glory and beauty.

And there are other things too, we can’t even conceive of.

“But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10)

The difference between a rich man and a poor man’s zero is minuscule compared to the riches of His immeasurable grace and our inheritance in Christ Jesus.

May these thoughts bless and encourage you. 


Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.