Mark 10:20-22 And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.” Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
Have you heard the old saying: It’s okay to have nice things; it’s not okay for nice things to have you. But, who cannot forget Tevye from the play and movie “Fiddler on the Roof" singing, “If I were a Rich Man” or Madonna’s 1985 hit about a “Material Girl” living in a material world, who craves the finer things in life and will manipulate anybody to get them. How about Callaway’s 1989 hit: “I wanna be Rich”, the O’Jays 1974 hit: “For the Love of Money”, or Pink Floyd’s 1973 Dark Side of the Moon hit: “Money”. Pastor Jon Payne asks: What instruction, wisdom and warning does God’s Word provide concerning temporal riches? We must go to the Holy scriptures, the wellspring of truth and wisdom. Without the anchor of God’s objective truth, we will be tossed about by the winds and waves of the materialistic secular world. Contrary to popular belief, the one with the most at the end does not win.
Matthew 13:22-23 “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
Christians who are seeking to cultivate godly contentment and a right perspective on earthly possessions face a real and ongoing challenge. I wrote before about my junior high school teacher who taught us about the intentional deception in advertising to create a desire and preserved need. Everywhere we turn, a barrage of ads and commercials that seek to capture our attention by communicating the alleged need for more stuff. God’s first of ten Commandments is to have no other god’s, but the One true God, and the last Commandment is to not covet - to desire inordinately. The two Commandments are bound together in idolatry – an insidious idolizing crave that willfully supplants the Lord God in the heart to the cares of this world, bows down to worship it and what it can do for us here and now. Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:24 that “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.”
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.”
To have wealth is not inherently wrong. The Bible teaches that God is the sovereign Giver and primary cause of all earthly possessions. Even our talents and skills are gifts from our Heavenly Father. Pastor Jon counsels to, first, be sure to honor the Lord with our wealth as a cheerful and generous steward of our gifts and glorify God in our use of them. Second, be sure to make God your joy and portion, and not earthly possessions. God must be the supreme treasure of our hearts and the chief object of our affection. Thomas Brooks writes; “No more will any earthly portion suit the immortal soul. All the soul needs is found in God.” Therefore, if we are to foster a godly perspective on having and wanting, the Lord must be the joy and portion of our hearts, and not the temporal treasures of this passing age. The Lord Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:19-21, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Third, be sure to always remember the ultimate vanity of earthly riches. Earthly riches can never truly satisfy, nor do they last. Eternity counts and where you spend eternity matters.
Hebrews 13:5 “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have.”
Hold your wealth with an open hand and have a light hand on your possessions, but cling to Jesus. Make Christ the glorious Treasure, chief Joy, and blessed Inheritance of your heart.
In Christ, Brian