True Riches

Luke 16:10-12.Whoever is faithful with very little will also be faithful with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been faithful with worldly wealth, who will entrust you with true riches? And if you have not been faithful with the belongings of another, who will give you belongings of your own?”

Wealth…..the world claims “whoever dies with the most toys, wins!” Is this little phrase true? Could there be an unspoken contest that occurs in society that measures success based off of the amount of stuff you hoard?

There is a reality T.V. show called “Hoarders”, it’s based on a group of people going into a home where a person has accumulated so much stuff, they can hardly live in their home any longer. The hoarded house is usually a cluster of refuse and filth. The objective is not only to convince the owner they have a problem but to get them to throw the stuff away. Viewers watch in amazement as the hoarder struggles to even release the garbage from under their watchful eye.

The idea that accumulating as much stuff as you can throughout your life is shown to be a horrible decision when it comes to health and longevity. Those that subscribe to this false narrative of what leads to happiness are faced with the delusional reality that it was all a smoke screen of entrapment.

The biblical pattern of wealth is opposite to the message the world portrays.

1 Timothy 6:10 “For the love of money is a root of all kinds ofevil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

I wonder if those who strive all their lives with the focus to accumulate wealth ever heard of God’s solution to money or possessions. If they had heard, did they just assume it was old time rhetoric or outdated suggestions that deserve no merit?

Those who take the Bible seriously, realize over time that the wisdom of God’s Word is timeless. People are people regardless of which century or Millenia they may have lived and the goals of mankind have essentially remained the same since our creation.

So why is the love of money a root of evil? One only needs to watch the news to see the corruption among those who subscribe to this ideology of accumulation. Depression, suicide, corruption, and all forms of human suffering are left in the wake of these who have placed their hope in their wealth. When money is your god, your sense of accomplishment or completion is never satisfied. When people gain money or power, they inevitably want more. The old adage that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”, has proven true more than once.

The United States of America’s is the richest country in the history of mankind. The wealth of its members far exceeds the average wealth of the world in history and the comparison is staggering. An article in Forbes magazine, January 2016 illustrated that “The Average American Today Is 90 Times Richer Than The Average Historical Human Being.”

While America sustains unprecedented wealth they are one of the highest for depression and suicide. The statistics for depression:

  • Affects over 18 million adults (one in ten) in any given year.3
  • Is the leading cause of disability for ages 15-44.4
  • Is the primary reason why someone dies of suicide about every 12 minutes. – over 41,000 people a year.5
  • In comparison: homicide claims less than 16,000 lives each year, according to 2013 CDC statistics.

So, with such sobering revelations of this money madness, what is a healthy, biblical view regarding wealth?

Jesus first gave the warning—-

Luke 12:15 “And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”

The Lord gave this same message to Isaiah hundreds of years earlier:

Isaiah 57:15For the iniquity of his covetousness I was angry and struck him; I hid and was angry, And he went on backsliding in the way of his heart.”

The alternative God centered focus is on giving it away….

Luke 6:38Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

The view God has given us is that true life is not found in gaining stuff, matter of fact, as a believer, if my focus is such, it is reflective of a backslidden heart…..a focus on money is a focus away from God’s provision and toward myself.

Proverbs 19:17Kindness to the poor is a loan to the LORD, and He will repay the lender.”

What we begin to see is that when you give, it is as if you are giving it to God Himself. He says, when you give to Him, He repays you accordingly….and I’m guessing, He is good for it!

You see, the money or possessions we have are not really our own, we are only stewards.

Jesus illustrates the parable of the master and the steward in Luke 12, those who faithfully cared for His masters possessions and those who didn’t. The reward: vs. 43 “Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.”

The idea of stewardship denotes a trust in someone with something that isn’t theirs. They don’t own that for which they are stewards, but they are rewarded for caring for it faithfully.

Luke 12:39-43 “But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 40Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

41Then Peter said to Him, “Lord, do You speak this parable only to us, or to all people?

42And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them theirportion of food [h]in due season? 43Blessed isthat servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.

To those who have been unfaithful: verse 25. “And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Now there is clearly a spiritual connotation that Jesus is illustrating here regarding the Lord and His revealed power to those who either accept or reject it, to those who wait for the masters return or those who don’t. The point I’m making is God entrusts us with so much, whether it is monetary gain or spiritual truth, there is an expectation of what we do with it.

Whether you have a lot to give or a little, it’s what you do with it and your heart that makes all the difference.

Mark 12:41-44Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. 42Then one poor widow came and threw in two [o]mites, which make a [p]quadrans. 43So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; 44for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.”

There are moments in history that mark greatness, the first one to climb Everest, the first trans-Atlantic crossing, the first man on the moon. Then there is the moment when the Creator of all brings in His disciples to take note of an act worthy of honor. This little lady gave a value that measured less than a penny. The greatness wasn’t in the value, it was found in the heart of the giver.

We can give in an assortment of ways, our time, our resources or our love to name a few. To Jesus, the value is not just in the way it is given, but in the why.

Jesus gave another parable of the last days, when judgment is rendered for acts upon the earth. He illustrates the King as a Shepherd, separating the sheep from the goats. The difference between the two, as Keith Green once said, “is what they did and didn’t do.”

Matthew 25:34-36 “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdomprepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36I wasnaked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

The sheep are illustrated with those who receive affirmation of God’s favor for what they have done, what they gave and who they cared for. We also see in the subsequent verses those who have been rejected because they didn’t do these deeds. Now, I know a lot of people who have rejected Jesus as Lord and Savior and have still done these things, so what could be the difference?

Matthew 25:34-46 “Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you,in as much as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

The difference: who you live for and why you do it.

The goats, may give away food, help the poor or give drink to the thirsty…but they do it for themselves. Their pride rules their hearts and the accolades that accompany ‘altruism’.

The sheep represent those who are led by the Spirit of God. They give because the love of God has filled their hearts and that love is expressed to others.

The little widow that gave her mite, gave it because of her love for God. The Lord honors those who give from the heart and their riches are being stored in Heaven.

Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

True riches are those that will be realized one day according to God’s standard. The Lord will determine who will inherit them and why. The judgement seat of Christ in 2 Cor. 5:10, is the time when His reward will be meted out to those who are His, those deeds done in the flesh will be thrown out, those deeds done in the Spirit, will have great reward.

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