RICH TOWARD GOD – THE QUESTION
"'This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich towards God.'" Luke 12:21 (The Message).
Rich toward God? What does that mean?
There is a great deal of difference between getting rich and being rich. Endless numbers of people within the community of believers are eager to tell us that it is our God-given right to get rich, and how to get rich. Strange that the Bible doesn't give us the 'Seven Steps to Getting Rich' but, throughout Scripture we are told, even urged how to use what we have to bless others.
The state of being rich is not easy to define. There is no standard by which to measure wealth. To someone who is hungry, a loaf of bread is 'rich'. We can never answer the question, 'How much is enough?' because 'enough' always moves, depending on our insatiable wants. A simple definition of rich would be 'enough for my needs and some over to share with others.' That puts richness within the reach of people who would never see themselves as rich.
The Apostle Paul has some specific counsel to Timothy for those who recognise that they are rich. In 1 Timothy 6:17 he says, 'Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain...' Now that is wise counsel. Paul encapsulates in a few words the danger of having riches in this world but not being rich - an arrogant attitude and a false hope. Funny how owning 'things' gives us the false idea that we are better than those who don't have them! What is it about 'things' that adds to our intrinsic worth, especially since we can't take them with us?
Secondly, what is it about 'things' that makes us feel secure? Does our connection to God as our Father mean nothing without some numbers in our bank account? Do His infallible promises mean nothing if we don't have figures in our current account? How secure are we near the end of the month? This is the acid test of our confidence in God.
Paul goes on, '...but to put their hope in God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.' Now that's security that does not depend on the exchange rate, the stock market or the state of the world's economy! It's a fine balancing act to live in God's kingdom and, at the same time, to navigate the world's system to do it. We are 'in the world but not of it.' Therefore money and possessions should always be our servant and never our master.
God is neither stingy nor a killjoy. He means us to enjoy the material blessings He showers on us but, and here's the twist in the tale. God has another agenda in His economic system. Why is He so generous to us? Why does He shower His bounty on us? Not becuase we deserve His generosity. After all we are the rebel race. If we miss this, we have missed the reason for our existence. He does it for His glory!
God governs His world by universal laws which never change and always apply. God's provision for us always comes in the wake of our giving first. The simple rule is, 'Give, and it will be given to you...' Whatever we need, we are instructed to give away and it will come back to us in abundant measure.
(To be continued)
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