I think it was in primary school that I first realised my family was comfortably well-off.

Yellow rice 加蛋 was the king’s meal back in the day. I know that now. For a long time that was my standard recess order, and I thought nothing of it, until one day I saw my friend eating a packet of Hello Panda for recess.

I asked him why he wasn’t eating a full meal, and his reply was, “Cheaper lah bro. Money cannot anyhow spend.”

To this day I have much to grow in by way of financial responsibility. I don’t spend exorbitantly, but neither the source of money nor the guilt of spending has ever been a major factor in my financial decisions.

The fact is that my family lies in the top percentile of income earners in Singapore, and that experience in primary school was just a sliver of evidence of how that can shape a person’s perspective on money.

I may not spend a lot, but I could.

I never thought much about this until a group I was in decided to study the book of Ecclesiastes.

There’s a portion of Scripture there that talks about the vanity of pursuing riches. And I was supposed to lead a discussion on it.

I felt so guilty. Here I was, a member of a high-income family, from a high-income nation, lecturing others on the vanity of chasing after money. The hypocrisy! The absurdity!

Nicholas? You? You of all people want to teach others how to forsake the pursuit of money? Of course it’s easy for you to say that the pursuit money is vanity – you have so much of it!

I realised what it must look like: A rich boy dressing myself with the garments of religious humility – the clothes of a priest – but returning daily to a mansion. There are so many who have suffered from lack, so many who are poor, so many whose faith has been tested more than me – how could I speak in their presence?

So how then? How might a rich man preach the Word? How might a rich man preach Christ?

It’s possible when he remembers that he was saved by Christ.

The effectiveness in the preaching of the Word doesn’t come from our social status, any more than the assuredness of our salvation does. Effective preaching of the Word comes from a heart filled with the Holy Spirit, a heart submitted to the Cross, a heart that rejoices in the words of God, a heart that seeks nothing more than Christ esteemed.

Like all men, my state without Christ is to be pitied.

If the effectiveness of teaching was founded in my ability to garner sympathy, then indeed I would be unfit for that position. My life has been filled to the brim with all measure of physical blessing – money, possessions, status – that some men might envy.
But like all men, my state without Christ is to be pitied. Scorned, laughed, dethroned and cast to the trash, where all my works and possessions belong. Such are the riches of Christ – that my wealth is rendered as dust before his throne, and my money like feeble scraps.

For there is no distinction: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 2:22b-24)

As I have received Jesus Christ my Lord, so I walk in Him.

Not in my own wisdom, not in my own status, not in the opinions of others, not in the knowledge I garner, not in the experience I accumulate, but only in Christ Jesus my Lord, my Rock and my only Salvation.

All measure of good work, all measure of good teaching and preaching, all measure of praying, all measure of continual submission, all measure of generosity must come out of this place of not-I-but-He-alone.

I pray that what comes through my teaching is not my social status, but Christ who dwells in me.

I do all these things in utter humility, knowing that I speak from a position of complete gratitude and reverence and awe and worship. I, a man – rich or otherwise – have been saved.

I pray that what comes through my teaching is not my social status, but Christ who dwells in me.

And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words.

But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:23-27)

All things are possible – even the salvation of a rich man.