THE WEALTH OF THE WICKED
"Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes" (Psalm 37:7, NIV).
Have you ever thought that God prospers the unbelievers more than the true believers in Him? Then, you think that God is not worthy of your worship because after all, why do ungodly prosper and the righteous are in penury?
In this way, some Israelites in Malachi's days became discouraged about their service to God, because to them, only the wicked prospered while the faithful were in abject poverty (Malachi 3:13-15). Was God partial? Their depression became an accusation of God's seemingly insensitivity to their deepest need. But can they measure God's rewards with momentary riches? What are true riches? Does that mean that some Christians are serving God because of what they would get in return, or because of who God is? Is amassing wealth through fraud, rituals, cultism, and all other dubious means true riches, or having inner peace with God? Jesus' words in John 4:23-24 are relevant here, "Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth" (NIV). The fact that fraudulent people "prosper" should not make us to emulate them, or accuse God. It should not make us to worship the gifts rather than the Giver of all good gifts. The Psalmist had warned against such (Psalm 37:1ff).
Nevertheless, not all Israelites in Malachi's days were anxious to get rich through ungodly means. There were some who knew that the Lord was good (Malachi 3:16-17). One of them was Malachi. He was contented. He testified that God still remembered those who relied on Him as the source of true wealth. What are the lessons for us? Testimonies about God and His reassurance are reliable and comforting even when we are in needs. God never abandons us, "…because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you'" (Hebrews 13:5, NIV).
Read Malachi 3:18-4:3, a clear distinction was made between the righteous and wicked people. Both of them have destinies. For the wicked, it will be eternal destruction with their riches! This is not annihilation, but total banishment from the very presence of God (see Matthew 25:46). What about the righteous? The righteous people will be healed, honored and renewed eternally. If this will happen, how would temporal "attractive" wealth of the wicked be compared with everlasting riches of the righteous? It is enduring, permanent and never devalued! Indeed, the righteous will indeed inherit the world (Psalm 37:9, 11, 22, 34, Isaiah 60:21).
In His service,
Bayo Afolaranmi (Pastor).
This message was first sent out on October 26, 2003.
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