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  • Dear Christian, are you rich or poor?

    My Slavic culture is greatly driven by preserving one’s image. We’re rooted in shame, guilt, perfectionism, secrecy, and silence. We think, “as long as I look good, no one’s going to know that I have any problems.”

     What if I told you that is not true at all? What if I told you that while you try so hard to look good, you are quite poor? 

    Bear with me, to begin, poverty is defined as the absence of something, and in your case, it might be the absence of peace. It might be the absence of love. It might be the absence of mercy, grace, and forgiveness. So what does that make you? That makes you dirt poor in the spiritual world? 

    Dear reader, I’ve been there. I’ve been spiritually dirt poor. Sometimes I also choose to return to that because, in my self-pity, I love to engage in justification of why I do what I do.

    Right about then, God convicts my heart and says, “Ilona, what are you doing?”

    I reply, “Oh Lord, I’m so sorry for choosing a lifestyle of poverty when you’ve made me so wealthy in the spiritual world.”

    So what does it mean to be wealthy in the spiritual world? It means to love people the way that God loved, it means to give away what you have because He gave you everything He has. It means to forgive the way you’ve been forgiven. It means to have mercy when no mercy is deserved. It means to turn the other cheek when you want to fight-that’s what it means to be rich. Being rich in the spiritual world has nothing to do with how much you have. It has everything to do with what you do with how much you’ve been given. There are people, millions of people in the poorest parts of the world that are richer and happier, and healthier than us in America.

    What do I mean by that?

    Here in America, we’re driven by consumerism, by envy, by perfectionism. And if I were to go into the depths of every single one of those things, they would all be rooted in insecurity.

    We may think the following without even realizing, “Out of my insecurity I want what you have. I try harder than you. I try to prove myself to be better than you because I don’t like myself.”

    People in other countries are thinking, “I’ve got some rice to eat today. I’m good. You’ve got some rice to eat today, you’re good, and even if you didn’t have some rice to eat, I will share my rice with you.”

     That’s what it means to be rich. There’s no spiritual absence here. We think that they’re poor because all they have to eat that day is rice but they think, “I’ve got rice, this is my daily bread and it’s enough.”

    They have something we often take for granted which is gratitude, giving to others, being selfless, and acknowledging that the Lord is the provider and that is enough. 

    So I want you to think about this: Be so afraid to think, “I’ve got it all. I look good, I feel good,” but be so poor because you don’t have good in your heart. 

    In the bible, it says, “Better is eating a meal of poverty, (fruits and vegetables), than eating a fatted calf with bitterness and resentment. 

    So many people are with their families eating fattened calves, but they don’t have peace in their hearts. I don’t want to be like that. I’d rather have my fruits and vegetables and look like I have nothing and be filled with God’s love, presence, and spirit, than have the latter.

    So dear one, wherever you are, assess yourself. If you have physical poverty, but you’re emotionally wealthy, celebrate that. If you have emotional poverty, but physical wealth turn your heart back to Jesus, find out who and what is worth living for, and live for that.

    Remember? It’s not what you look like or it’s not what you have on the outside that makes you rich or poor. It’s what your heart is made out of. That makes one either rich or poor.