As we continue our evaluation of the ‘rich’ person who would struggle to enter the kingdom of God, we see two more aspects of being rich.
- Valuing money:
Man has a tendency to value certain things in life. These are the treasures in his life- he thinks about them often, prices them highly in his sight, often prides himself over them and works hard to preserve them. In Jesus’ own words,
‘Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’. (Luke 12:34)
Money is one of the major treasures, albeit not the only one that can draw a man away from God. When all one can think about is his bank balance or the earthly possessions he has, it is a symptom of valuing money. Valuing money is closely related to the love of money that drives a man to chase after and crave for money. Learning not to treasure money does not mean that you do not attempt to understand, earn, save or invest money. Instead, a Christian needs to be able to do all these, yet handle money dispassionately and not consider it the treasure of his life. He would do well to remember Job’s classic statement,
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” (Job 1:21)
Another teaching by Jesus, found in Luke 16, highlights several aspects of valuing money
11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? 13 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” 14 The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15 He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight. (Luke 16)
A Christian is asked to handle worldly wealth and be trustworthy in his dealings. Valuing money will lead to a state of being a slave of money, which excludes the ability to serve God. We also see how the value system of God is vastly different from the value system of God.
- Depending on money:
Life in this materialistic world is fashioned in such a way that we depend on money for our various needs. But a Christian needs to distinguish between utilizing money for his earthly needs and depending on money for living his life. When money becomes the decider for all things in life, when your dependence on God is substituted for dependence on money and when your plans for life are based on how much money you have rather than faith in God, it betrays a lifestyle that is dependent on money.
It is difficult but possible to move away from dependence on money to dependence on God and trust him to facilitate all that he has asked of you from your life. When Christians come together as a church, unless dependence on God to provide, predominates human effort and contribution, it is a reflection on dependence on money, which is far removed from kingdom values.
16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ 18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ’ 20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ 21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12)
The attitude toward money is what makes a person dangerously rich in God’s sight. As man dives deeper into a state of loving, hoarding, valuing and depending on money, he makes it harder for himself to preserve the kingdom values.
- THE RICH AND THE KINGDOM OF GOD-I
- JOHN THE BAPTIST