A slight re-cap, and then continuing on from yesterday’s thoughts:
(Click here to read all of Part I)
…..Although I have spent most of my life breezing through the many verses in the Bible addressed to the wealthy, I know generally that God has a lot to say about personal wealth– both about the risks as well as the responsibilities. Here, I have tried to bring a few of these down to practical application, using I Timothy 6:17-19 and the acronym RICH (just so you don’t forget it).
RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE POOR- In verse 18 of I Timothy 6 we are charged, as the rich:
If we look at the life of Jesus as a pattern, we see a great deal of attention given to the poor. Here was the God-Man with nowhere to lay his head—yet He took it upon himself to meet the physical, as well as spiritual needs of the poor! How much more should we, who are so blessed, be meeting the needs of the poor of our day?
INVEST IN ETERNITY- Verse 19 tells us that by sharing with others we are laying up for ourselves a good foundation for the future. As I have wrestled with what my role is to be in regards to becoming a generous giver, I have discovered how earthbound my thinking is. It is precisely what Jesus told us in regards to the rich entering the kingdom of Heaven. God’s eternal kingdom is mine today if I choose to enter it. However, in such a prosperous place as America it is really hard to see His kingdom– let alone choose to enter it today. Do I really have to believe that the new ipod or Starbucks frappuccino that I’m planning on buying really has anything to do with God and His kingdom?? But what if they do? That leads us to the next point.
CHOOSE LIFE- Yes, Life, with a capital L. Verse 19 goes on to tell us that investing in eternity is how we lay hold on eternal life. This is huge. I’m pretty sure we would all say we desire eternal life—but do we really? If you have a growing relationship with Jesus Christ then eternity and His kingdom is yours, TODAY—but do you really even want it? I had to ask myself this awhile ago—in one of those bare-all sessions with God that He occasionally brings into my life—because the reality is that for the believer, eternity is already here. It is called, Life. I mean real Life– not the death sentence we were all born with, but Eternal Life. We tend to think “Eternal Life” is somewhere out there after death. But Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10b) The question is, am I choosing to live it or am I still clinging to death.
Let me give you an illustration that might clarify: Suppose it’s Christmas morning and there is a father who has found the perfect gift for his child. He knows it is exactly what his child has always needed and it is even what the child has said he wants. So on Christmas morning he hands the gift to the child; but the child is texting his friends and is saying, “Oh– cool, Dad. Just a sec’ and I’ll open it.” A few more minutes go by and then the child says, “Hey, I’m heading over to so-and-so’s house, why don’t you just keep the gift for now, I mean I really want it, but right now I’m kind of busy, so I’ll open it later.” Now if you’re like me you are probably thinking what that father is thinking. “Are you sure you really want it? Because it doesn’t look to me like you REALLY want it.” Sometimes I wonder if this is how my Heavenly Father feels about me. So often I say, “I want Your gift of Eternal Life—only not right now. I mean I can save it for later, right?” I go on choosing death as I invest all my resources and place all my affections on things that are going to die. I continue to reject opportunities to invest in things that fill me with Life today. Oh, that we would accept the gift today and choose to invest our money, time and affections in things that give us Life.
HUMBLE YOURSELF AND HOPE IN GOD- So how do we make this a reality today? Verse 17 tells us, the rich:
- Not to be proud or arrogant or contemptuous of others
- Nor to set our hopes on uncertain riches (things that have the stench of death on them)
- But rather to trust and hope in God, Who richly and ceaselessly provides us with everything for our enjoyment—our ENJOYMENT guys! This is not a call to be miserable, giving up everything that’s fun, but rather it’s a call to recognize what Eternal Life really is: hope in a God who wants desperately to satisfy our every longing and to do the impossible in and through us.
I love what the writer of Hebrews writes in telling us about the Heroes of Faith:
“These people all died controlled and sustained by their faith, but not having received the tangible fulfillment of [God’s] promises, only having seen it and greeted it from a great distance by faith, and all the while acknowledging and confessing that they were strangers and temporary residents and exiles upon the earth. Now those people who talk as they did show plainly that they are in search of a fatherland (their own country). If they had been thinking with [homesick] remembrance of that country from which they were emigrants, they would have found constant opportunity to return to it. But the truth is that they were yearning for and aspiring to a better and more desirable country, that is, a heavenly [one]. For that reason God is not ashamed to be called their God [even to be surnamed their God—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob], for He has prepared a city for them.” (Hebrews 11:13-16 AMP)
As we begin this challenge, may we too, even as wealthy Americans, be worthy of having our last name or surname be “God” and to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which we have been called” (Ephesians 4:1). Shaking off the chains of our riches and choosing Life by firmly hoping in the Author of Life to satisfy our every longing and thus declaring ourselves strangers in this world and the countrymen of Heaven.