This week the BCS race, the Fiscal Cliff and the meltdown in Egypt found themselves being bumped in media air time by the record $588 million dollar prize of Powerball. A couple in Missouri won half the prize, the other half has been won by a man from Arizona who has yet to be identified. The first set of winners even announced their “good fortune” on Facebook. (I wonder how many friend requests they have subsequently received,) News stories leading in talked about all the different kinds of people buying a ticket, or how they were choosing their number, or what they would do with the money if they “hit” the jackpot. I did not hit the jackpot (I haven’t been to Arizona in a couple of years). I did not even buy a ticket nor did I think of buying one.

I found myself agreeing with one news commentator who said, “Maybe we should report on the persons fortunate enough NOT to win the Powerball.” While most people think of all the “problems” they could solve in their life if they finally found the winning number to the Powerball or even some its lesser partners, I also wonder what it does to their lives as people began to approach and/or pursue them for a share of their winnings. And how people who have lived with less and found peace in their lives, albeit a financially limited one, still find that peace when they have plenty. And how do they keep that newfound and instantaneous wealth from changing them as people into someone they have not really chosen to be. If you can now be permanently on vacation and travel around the world, what do you lose in everyday relationships or in having a community where you can actually put down roots.

The Bible teaches us that “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (I Timothy 6.6)

Actually the whole passage reads: “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

By now we should have learned that character trumps everything. What we do not need is one more avenue to find our contentment and worth in possessions. We need to learn to let our success be measured in the quality of human being we are.

And money absolutely has a way of making you love it. Part of the reason we are nearing the Fiscal Cliff is that everyone loves money too much – the rich love their money too much to pay more taxes and the rest of us love the money the rich have so much that we want them to pay for our country’s needs instead of all of taking responsibility to make all of this work.

So I must say today, I am glad I am so lucky as to not win the Powerball.

(C) 2012 by Stephen L Dunn


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