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Riches I Heed Not

February 28, 2011

I do not presume to be an expert on the subject of wealth.  But I do have a wealth of knowledge on the subject because I have a Bible.

Since I also never plan on being wealthy, I have to watch my own attitude toward those who have amassed a fair amount of this world’s goods.  What I do know is this:  the Bible is packed with wisdom and warnings concerning the subject of wealth.  One of them comes from Jesus  in Luke 12:13-21:

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’

And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ Luk 12:21  So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

This is not the message received daily from worldly inputs.

Coveteousness or greed consists in selfishly stockpiling wealth for self and not for God. It is summarized in the vignette (apocryphal or not) where the senior John D. Rockefeller was asked, “How much money does it take to make a person happy?” and his reply: “Just one more dollar.”

The real man in Jesus’ story here in Luke 12 felt ripped off because apparently he was getting cut out of the family inheritance (v. 13). You and I might too feel this way, if our perspective on earthly goods and wealth is not informed by the life-changing power of Jesus.

What the man in the crowd failed to realize was this: money/possessions have the power to deaden/kill one’s soul. “I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample good laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink be merry.'”

Then come some of the most ominous words in the Gospels from the lips of the Father: “But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night you soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?'” In other words, earthly riches are the poorest defense to be presented against death. Sin and death laugh at the one who goes hard after money/possessions, rather than hard after God and his kingdom.

One man, Eugene Peterson, paraphrases this verse thusly in keeping with the farming picture:  “That’s what happens when you fill your barn with Self and not with God” (The Message).

Or as Matthew Henry states about this parable he wrote, “The more men have, the more perplexity they have with it.  It is the folly of most men, to mind and pursue that which is for the body and for time only, more than that for the soul and eternity.”

How much better to live by the words of the verse found in “Be Thou My Vision”:

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,

Thou mine inheritance now and always,

Thou and thou only first in my heart

High King of heaven, my treasure thou art.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Brian permalink
    February 28, 2011 4:22 PM

    I discovered, by studying the Bible, that the wealthy and privileged was one of the groups Jesus always had conflict with.I fell for (a while) the false doctrine “God is happy with me that is why I have so much” I thought God wasn’t happy with me or (the best one) I should have gotten more money and possesions before I accepted Jesus as Saviour ,because it meant ‘God blessed me and I didn’t even know it’.I am touching a subject way over my head,but I really had a struggle with that false doctrine.God’s blessing came in the form of a beaten,whipped,and crucified man.Is. 53 ‘…the punishment that brought us peace was upon him by his wounds we are healed…..it pleased the Lord to see him crushed….he will get a portion with the great for he has borne the sin of many and made intercesion for the transgressors’.

    • March 1, 2011 3:39 PM

      Wow, great thoughts and sharing Brian. I really enjoyed reading and reflecting on what you’ve said here.

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