11 / 05 / 11
(Revisited from 013010)
“Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease?”
I have felt some of the pain that our Messiah must have felt. Jeremiah felt it those who followed the Messiah felt this pain, as well. I am going to paint you a picture so that you may better understand:
Imagine two people standing before you. Each of them has a message :
Man #1: Is well-dressed and very handsome. He is successful in all that he does and seems to have the world under his control. Everything he touches seemingly turns to gold.
Man #2: Is quite the opposite. He is not wealthy, and as far as looks, well, he is far from handsome. He has a small group of friends who all seem to be down on their luck, too. People walking by seem to ridicule him. In short, by the standards of this world he would not be considered successful.
Both of these men are preaching a spiritual message about how to live here on earth and about salvation. These two men have differing opinions about it, though, which man would you tend to be drawn to? Both man #1 and #2 claim to love and praise God sincerely, and they both claim to be blessed by God. They both have a message which one would you tend to believe is truly being blessed? If you haven’t already guessed, man #2 represents Yeshua (Jesus) and those who followed Him. Scripture tells us in Isaiah 53:2-4:
“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not we considered him stricken by God.“
We also know from Scripture that He had no place to lay His head (He was homeless but he had a message). We also know from Scripture that Satan controls the worldly wealth and used it to tempt our Messiah in the desert. In our society, though, the multitudes continue to flock to man #1 in their search to know God. The fact is, our flesh wants what the world has to offer. Only when the riches of the world are combined with a spiritual message, people suddenly desire spiritual things.
LET US SEE WHAT SCRIPTURE SAYS ABOUT WORLDLY WEALTH:
First of all, I want all my readers to know that I consider myself wealthy. Why do I think so? Because I have more than today’s food and clothing. THAT is all that He promises us. Anything beyond today’s food and clothing makes us wealthy according to God’s standards. The promise of many churches, though, is that we will be wealthy according to the world’s standards if we have enough faith. My point is, if the proof-test of being blessed by God is wealth, then why weren’t the disciples and all the followers of Yeshua we read about in the New Testament all wealthy according to the world’s standards? Some may have been at first, but once they began to follow the Messiah, they walked away from their businesses or gave up all they had. They were willing to give up everything to follow Him.
“What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Messiah Yeshua (Christ Jesus) my Lord, for whose sake I have LOST all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ .” (Philippians 3:8)
In fact, when we think about focusing on gaining worldly wealth in this life, the words of our Messiah come to mind:
“and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:38-39)
As well as what He told the rich man to do to inherit the government (kingdom) of God:
‘Yeshua (Jesus) said to him (the rich man), “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” ‘ (Matthew 19:21)
The truth is: when we focus on gaining spiritual wealth instead of earthly wealth, it is then that we lose THIS life so that we may gain Christ and find true life, eternally. Are you trying to hang on to both? Let us continue then
Here is a challenge for the wealthy (those with more than today’s food and clothing): Pray this prayer with me, “Father, if my wealth is keeping me from knowing you more, take away my abundance and leave me with only what you feel is necessary for me. I do not want to be rich if it is keeping me from truly knowing you more intimately. I trust in you to supply my daily food and clothing like your disciples did.”
Go ahead and try it. What did you say? Hey, I totally understand how hard it is to pray and think this way. We have an example of a prayer about finances in Proverbs which states:
“give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, “Who is YHVH?” Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.” (Proverbs 30:7-9)
Did you catch that? The writer of Proverbs considers having only today’s daily bread as being the middle ground between poverty and riches! What else does Scripture say about those who preach that faith will necessarily bring worldly wealth or that having riches is the proof that He is pleased with your faith?
” who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.” (1 Timothy 6:5-9)
- Read the physical description of His followers in 2 Corinthians: “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” (vs 6:10)
‘Then Yeshua (Jesus) said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. (He did NOT say it is impossible, just hard. But, how hard is it? ) Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom (government) of God“. ‘ (Matthew 19:23)
Hmmmm that is hard. Do I want more money? Yes (I cannot lie), of course I do. But it is my flesh that desires it and does NOT want to have to trust God every time I get hungry (but that is my flesh and I am working on it). You can have a homeless man who is just as much of a sin as the most wealthy if he desires it more than God. The fact is, it is when we have nothing that we truly trust God for every meal and need. That could be why those He sent off to preach the truth were told to take NOTHING with them: ‘These were his (Yeshua’s) instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff–no bread, no bag, no money in your belts.” ‘ (Mark 6:8)
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who RICHLY provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be RICH in GOOD DEEDS, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is TRULY LIFE.” (1 Timothy 6:17-19)
“Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver has corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.” (James 5:1-3 and 5)
Gulp so how rich do you want to be? Do you want tomorrow’s food too? Is that too much? I don’t know. But when we see the abject poverty in third world countries, nearly all of us as Americans would be considered rich and fall into the above descriptions. We truly must take this to heart and make some hard decisions about what the future holds and where our treasures should be. Many think their litmus test of true faith is: “I study the Word when I have time and I go to church. Obviously, God is pleased with me because I am wealthy and prosperous.” This message is the opposite of what He seems to actually say in Scripture. (Oh, I know, I know. Just like obedience, there are some Scriptures that we can twist to satisfy our flesh but many of those passages are referring to ’spiritual wealth’).
‘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. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.’ (Revelation 3:17-18)
What do you think: in this passage, is wealth a sign of being blessed by God? It seems that wealth is often what Satan uses to deceive people from truly turning to and knowing the God of Israel. Can you see it? “Hey, I claimed Jesus as my Savior, I go to church, I pray, and praise Him and I have all that my flesh desires. Why would I want to change anything about my faith?” Many people do not grow spiritually or seek to be further sanctified by God (they continue to break His Laws) because they are lulled into complacency due to the belief that the material blessings prove they are ‘holy enough’ to gain salvation and please God the way they are. This is verified by the following verses:
“The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.” (Matthew 13:22)
“Do not be overawed when a man grows rich, when the splendor of his house increases; for he will take nothing with him when he dies, his splendor will not descend with him. Though while he lived he counted himself blessed ‘and MEN praise you when you prosper’ he will join the generation of his fathers, who will NEVER see the light of life.” (Psalm 49:16-19)
Did you catch that? The wealthy who were praising God considered themselves as being blessed, never realizing that their wealth was actually keeping them from knowing the truth and seeing the light. I have to be honest with you, it is when I am the neediest that I seem to grow the most in my faith; It is when I struggle to get paid from those I have worked for that I search the hardest for His face and truth and what pleases Him.
SO, WHAT ARE HIS CHILDREN TOLD TO DO WITH WEALTH (the amount we have after eating and dressing for the day)?
Let’s see how the early church handled wealth:
“At the present time your plenty will supply what THEY need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what YOU need. Then there will be equality.” (2 Corinthians 8:14)
“All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.” (Acts 2:44-45)
“There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.” (Acts 4:34-35)
For all of us who have more than today’s food and clothing, we need to take a step back and examine how we are using the wealth that we have. In addition, we must also realize that wealth is not a litmus test to determine who has been given favor by God. I have seen many wealthy self-proclaimed ‘Christians’ whose children were disobedient, whose marriages were failing, and who had little sleep due to worry, fear, and depression. I have also seen the opposite-those low and middle income ‘Christians’ (still wealthy in God’s eyes) whose children were respectful, whose marriages were a joy and blessing, and who had peaceful sleep with lives of joy, spiritual growth, praise, and peace. The fact is, the less one has, the greater the faith seems to be. Me? I would go to man #2 for advice about life (only after examining His walk of obedience and faith).