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 really be some unspoken contest that occurs in society by which success is measured based only off the amount of stuff you hoarded in life?

There are people who hoard their belongings. The hoarded house is usually a cluster of refuse and filth. For anyone who has walked through a hoarders house, the sight is usually one of disgust.

Not only does the sight of stuff piled upon stuff provide a glimpse into a psyche that has been broken, it reveals what that person’s heart is tied to—the world. Those who have been drawn into this false sense of happiness realize all too late that it was a lie.

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

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

I wonder if those who strive so hard to accumulate wealth have 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 If they had heard, did they just assume it was old time rhetoric or outdated suggestions that deserve no merit?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 the beginning of creation.

A root of Evil

Hebrews 13:5 “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Plants have many roots, not just one root will suffice to keep that plant alive. Just like righteousness is rooted in the many facets of faithfulness, evil is rooted with many forms of deception.

So why is the love of money one 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 show that it is widespread.

  • It affects over 18 million adults (one in ten) in any given year.
  • It is the leading cause of disability for ages 15-44.
  • It 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 for the richest people in history, the american position should not be one of pride but of sorrow. A godly perspective of money changes the narrative.

God’s Viewpoint

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 57:15 For 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 to hoarding is a God centered focus on giving possessions away….

Luke 6:38 Give, 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 where true godly living is found, not in gaining stuff to keep which reflects a backslidden heart but a focus on recognizing that what God has given is for use in God’s Kingdom to bring honor back to Him.

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

What we see is that when you give, it is as if you are giving it to God Himself—He says, when you give to Me, I will repay you accordingly. When the focus of the heart is not toward money, the one God blesses doesn’t look for money in return.

You see, the money or possessions we have are really not our own, we are only stewards of what God has given us.

Jesus illustrates the parable of the master and the steward in Luke 12, which depicts those who faithfully cared for their 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 is valuable. The steward doesn’t own that for which he is a steward, but he is 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. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

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

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

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

There is a clear spiritual connotation that Jesus is illustrating here regarding God’s revealed power to those who either accept or reject His pattern of life—those who wait for Jesus’ return and those who don’t.

The point we must receive is that God entrusts us with so much, whether it is monetary gain or spiritual truth, there is an expectation for what we do with it.

God’s Expectations

Whether you have a lot to give or a little, it’s the position of your heart that makes all the difference.

Mark 12:41-44 Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. So 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; for 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 transAtlantic crossing, or the first man on the moon to name a few. Then there is the moment when the Creator brings attention to 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 different 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. Do you know what the difference was between the sheep and goats?—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 kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for 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; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

The sheep are illustrated by those who received affirmation of God’s favor for what they have done, what they gave and for whom they cared. We 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 seemingly good things—what’s 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 is: 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; pride rules their hearts and the accolades that accompany their works.

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 the riches of these faithful is 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; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

True riches are the ones 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 whose deeds done in the flesh will be thrown out and those deeds that were done in the Spirit, these will have great reward.

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