Some of us who enjoy certain cultural and economic privileges may at times be tempted to think we are better than those who do not enjoy such status. And we may be tempted to use these privileges to benefit ourselves, ignoring the needs and rights of others. Ellen White speaks to these dangers near the end of The Great Controversy (“Desolation of the Earth“), describing the experience of those who valued their wealth over the things of God.
The rich prided themselves upon their superiority to those who were less favored; but they had obtained their riches by violation of the law of God. They had neglected to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to deal justly, and to love mercy. They had sought to exalt themselves and to obtain the homage of their fellow creatures. Now they are stripped of all that made them great and are left destitute and defenseless. They look with terror upon the destruction of the idols which they preferred before their Maker. They have sold their souls for earthly riches and enjoyments, and have not sought to become rich toward God. The result is, their lives are a failure; their pleasures are now turned to gall, their treasures to corruption. The gain of a lifetime is swept away in a moment. The rich bemoan the destruction of their grand houses, the scattering of their gold and silver. But their lamentations are silenced by the fear that they themselves are to perish with their idols. (p. 654)
- If someone looked at my check book or credit card statement, what values would they find evidence for?
- Am I ever tempted to believe I’m superior to someone? What might the Spirit being trying to whisper to me in this regard if I am quiet and listen?
- What am I pursuing with my time, energy and finances?
- How might I personally get involved with social action (“feed the hungry, clothe the naked, deal justly, and love mercy”)?
- When my end comes, what will I have wanted to have given my life to?
- How do I define failure and success?
- What biblical support can be made for White’s assertion?