Richness towards God

Blessed are those who have regard for the poor. The Lord delivers them in times of trouble. The Lord protects and preserves them. They are counted among the blessed in the land.
— Psalm 41:1-2

Throughout Scripture, God shows specific affection for the poor. Those whose lives come dangerously close to failure, who model full reliance upon Him.

Since we don’t consider ourselves wealthy, passages like these often race past us without much consideration.

But consider this –if you were reading this online devotional inside a room comprised of 100 people who represent the earth’s population, you would be one of three in the room with internet connectivity. Ninety-seven other people would look on in amazement.

Jesus tells a story in the New Testament about a rich man who builds bigger barns to store his magnificent success. His life ends before he has the opportunity to enjoy it. Jesus tells this story in response to a man who has been sitting and listening to him preach, preoccupied with getting what was rightfully his.

“Tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me” (Luke 12:13).

Sitting in the presence of Messiah, instead of fully absorbing the brilliance of that moment, the man was distracted by something valid and fair –getting what was rightfully his, what he was entitled to, fighting for his rights, standing up for himself and demanding his fair share. All things Culture, Self-Help, and Pop Psychology would encourage you to do.

Jesus responds: “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” (15).

Watch out? All kinds of greed? Abundance of possessions?

We wouldn’t call him greedy. Just practical. Fair. Assertive.

But the Scriptures do not teach us to be assertive. The Scriptures teach us—and this is remarkable—the Scriptures teach us to be submissive. This is not a popular idea. But it is a biblical one.

Jesus reorients the man, and the audience, around what really matters:

Do not get distracted by stuff, by getting your rightful due, by standing up for yourself, by being assertive.

Instead, obey God. Grow rich in your relationship with Him. Leave the consequences to Him, the One who holds the keys to life and death (20).

Jesus admonishes them to not give their energies to “the abundance of possessions” or different “kinds of greed,” but to instead invest in being “rich towards God” (21).

When one does that, He takes care of the rest. Like the ragtag group of former slaves wandering the desert, whose previous existences required constant work for survival, God had to build into their new economy the mandate of dependence –one day a week in which He’d fill the gap between what they earned and what they needed. One day a week of mandated dependency.

Because if they were able to fully provide for themselves, they’d have no need of Him.

Isn’t this Jesus’ chief charge against the church in Laodicea? That their self-sufficience resulted in a disregard of Him?

“You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (17).

They had accumulated an abundance of possessions (Luke 12:15), but hadn’t grown in richness towards God (Luke 12:21), and for this, He judges them (Revelation 3:19-20).

Greed, like wealth, is impossible to see in the mirror. Jesus calls a man out as greedy that we would never label as such.

So we must be on guard.

Being wealthy is not a sin. The Bible has much to say about managing wealth, so that it does not manage us. Being wealthy is not a sin, but being greedy is. Looking out for ourselves, running over people to get a piece of the pie, smashing those who get in our way, motivated by the almighty dollar, this is not biblical.

Keeping Jesus first is.

Obey God. Leave the consequences to Him. Don’t get distracted. Grow in your richness towards Him.

“Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).

Lord, search us. Reveal to us even the invisible parts of our own depravity. Help us to grow in our richness towards you. Even to the neglect of our entitlement.

Amen.

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