August 27, 2023
As we live in the midst of a society who celebrates the rich and famous, we need to ask ourselves who is really the richest person in the world? Some would argue for one person or another that flaunts great riches, but who is truly rich? The Bible gives us a good indicator of genuine riches, the basis thereof is taking hold of the true riches found in God and in the application of His word in our lives. Consider the comparison:
1 Timothy 6:17–19 (ESV) — 17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.
Notice that there is not a condemnation for being rich, rather there is a warning on focusing upon the riches. Jesus told a parable of a man who focused on his wealth by building great barns and finding contentment in his riches.
Luke 12:21 (ESV) — 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.
Jesus also warned about a lack of faithfulness in the stewardship of whatever God provides for us as in any unfaithfulness in that area will rob us from enjoying God’s authentic riches.
Luke 16:10–11 (ESV) — 10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?
Consider then the true riches of God; namely His grace, His mercy, His forgiveness of our sins, His gospel, and His glory all of which belong to those who are blessed to believe and follow the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 1:7 (ESV) — 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,
Ephesians 3:8 (ESV) — 8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
Ephesians 3:16 (ESV) — 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
Ephesians 2:4 (ESV) — 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,
No wonder the admonition is to focus on the genuine riches found in the word of God, not only to be in the word as in reading, studying, meditating, and memorizing but that the word of Christ in us will come out in making a difference in the way we live.
Colossians 3:16 (ESV) — 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
1 Timothy 6:6–9 (ESV) — 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.
In the book of Revelation there are two churches in stark contrast to which Jesus sent direct and contrasting messages. One church thought they were poor as they were facing poverty of worldly wealth and tribulation, but He declares them rich. The other church came across as very satisfied, feeling rather rich, but He declares them truly poor, blind, and naked.
Revelation 2:9 (ESV) — 9 I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
Revelation 3:17 (ESV) — 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
Which is better? Is it better to be following the rich and famous in seeking to be like them, or following the true riches of Christ, seeking to enjoy God’s blessings and taking care to use whatever riches God may place in our hands to His glory?
Solomon described the perspective on riches this way:
Proverbs 30:7–9 (ESV) — 7 Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: 8 Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, 9 lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.
Bob Brubaker, Pastor