I have asked God many times what should the church do to get His people to understand His ways with money and riches and in my heart there is always and only one resounding answer…. TEACH WHAT JESUS TAUGHT!
‘My sheep listen to MY VOICE.. I know them and they follow ME’ (Jn 10:27)
Luke 12:13-15 ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a mans life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions
Note This applies to covetousness as much as greed - both are defined as idolatry (Col 3:5)
Note Many rich people today with wealth know the emptiness ….it does not bring joy or life!
Luke 12:16-21 The parable of the rich fool has a few key issues by which Jesus undermines the belief that riches, WITHOUT GOD, can bring satisfaction, joy and security:-
Note that the rich fool did not have any love for others or desire to assist the needy. The Christian walk is not one of selfishness.
Vs 17 The problem of safely hoarding
Vs 18 Hoarding as against generosity is clearly not the way of God
Vs 20 The futility of a selfish life ‘You FOOL! This very night your life will be required from you’.
NOTE that the rich man in the parable was NOT 'rich towards God' ..... he did not know God! He had allowed his wealth to distract him from life's primary goal....to find God and enter a relationship with Him. Sometimes it is our trust in our religious wealth that brings us to the same position (Rev 3:18-19)
1 Tim 6:7 ‘For we bought nothing into this world and we can take nothing out of it’
The world today is set up to try and get people to part with their money by means of manipulation and deception. Many unsaved people rightly see the churches as being no different.
Jesus makes no compromise but His way is different to that of religious institutions.
He says ‘Know that I am God...and let me be the LORD of your life’ rather than saying ‘GIVE ME YOUR MONEY’
People then know they have a choice to make .... A life with God....or a life pursuing money without purpose.
The Rich Young Ruler
Luke 18:18-27Jews under the Law looked to their keeping the commandments as the way to be saved. They saw primarily the external observation as the requirement without looking at the heart. From the question asked ‘What must I do to inherit eternal life?’ it seems that observing the Law had NOT bought him to the place of rest.
He claimed to have kept the Law by observing those commandments which involved relationships with people but Jesus by pointing out what he lacked and suggesting the remedy challenged him with the key question ‘Is this world and your wealth more important than a relationship with God?’ ….and hit the raw nerve. The young man was 'trusting in his riches' (Mark 10:24) in the same way many 'religious' people trust in their own self righteousness as their riches.
Jesus does not compromise on this point ‘You cannot serve God and mammon'... We must trust God alone.
I got saved 33 plus years ago when I was an almost penniless student but after having an encounter with God a few years ago I realise that this issue is still a ‘no-brainer’. If you let money become your first priority, you will not experience God in your life……HE DOES NOT TAKE SECOND PLACE (Mat 10:39)
IF YOU HAVE EVER KNOWN GOD AND WALKED WITH HIM, YOU WILL KNOW THAT THERE IS NO SATISFACTION IN LIVING YOUR LIFE WITHOUT HIM IN IT.
To the rich person who wants to find God and thereby eternal life, there is no other answer…..you will find that when you encounter GOD your priorities WILL be altered. I doubt anyone could stand before God and conclude that 'what we have' more important than 'how we stand with God'?
WHAT AN ANATHEMA IT IS TO SEE MINISTERS OF THE GOSPEL WHO BRAZENLY LIVE A LAVISH AND WORLDLY LIFE! (but be honest, other than on 'christian TV' they are few and far between in real life)
Vs 25 ‘How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the Kingdom of God. Indeed it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God’
Note ‘Who then can be saved?’…..ie all men are rich in some way……we all have things we have to let go of to be able to follow Jesus
Note ‘What is impossible with men is possible with God’…..
When God draws us he empowers us to make the decision….ie what choice do we really have (Jn 6:68 ‘Lord to whom shall we go…you have the words of eternal life’)
THE KEY IS THAT OUR SURRENDER IS INTO A DIRECT RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD AND NOT TO MEN or RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS.
Mat 5:42 Give to him who asks you and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you
Note This would not be for his greeds, wastes or to support his addictions but for his NEEDS
Luke 10:25 The parable of the good Samaritan shows who we should be helping……those who through no fault of their own are in trouble.
GOD PUTS POOR PEOPLE IN OUR WAY TO TEST OUR HEARTS
ie Lazarus at the rich mans gate (Luke 16:19).... Are you 'stepping over or around' someone with desperate a need?
Heb 13:1-2 ‘Let brotherly love continue, do not forget to entertain strangers for by doing so some have unwittingly entertained angels’
It is not our religiosity which counts but letting our faith manifest through our generosity (Faith working through love)
THE ONLY RICHES YOU CAN TAKE WITH YOU ARE THOSE THAT YOU RECEIVE BY FAITH FROM CHRIST.... ie HIS GIFT TO US!
Mat 6:1-4 ‘Be careful not to do your acts of righteous before men to be seen by them.
If you do you will have no reward from your father in heaven
‘so that your giving may be in SECRET. Then your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
1 Tim 6:17-19 Charge those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty,
nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us all things richly to enjoy
Let them do good, that they may be rich in good works, ready to give and willing to share
Storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life
RICHES HAVE THEIR GREATEST VALUE WHEN WE CAN SEE THEM AS A MEANS TO BE A BLESSING TO OTHERS AND TO HAVE THE PRIVILEGE TO BE ABLE TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE WORK OF THE KINGDOM….AND FOR THIS WE OURSELVES ARE BLESSED!
The Widows mite
The context is that religion, which frequently devours widows houses, fails to appreciate the small amount given...but God doesn't!
Luke 21:3-4 The widow gave freely all she had…..as an expression of her faith…… ‘God I have nothing left to live on …no wealth of my own and I am trusting you to look after me and supply my need’
The poor have the freedom to give what they can and as they want to. The rich should be encouraged to express God's love through generousity
The parables of the ‘Talents’ and the ‘Sheep and the Goats’
Mat 25:14-31 and 31-46 are an essential read……and very seldom preached today
Please notice the emphasis about these talents is that God gives us all an opportunity to work productively and wisely with what HE provides us in life (ie the ‘Talents’). It is HE who provides us with our skills and opportunities.
The sheep and the goats are distinguished by one criteria…….their demonstration of love for those who are need ..physically and spiritually! This is the ONLY way the scriptures say we can 'Give to God'
How much do you want to hear Jesus say “Well done thou good and faithful servant….come and share in your masters happiness” and “Come blessed by my Father, take your inheritance in the kingdom” ?
LOVE FOR CHRIST'S BRETHREN & THE LOST EXPRESSED THROUGH GENEROSITY IS THE PROOF OF FAITH!
(Ever heard the joke about rich man who tried to take his money with him…and the doctor, lawyer & pastor?)