Verse of the Day
Proverbs 11:28He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like foliage.
It is day 4 after the horrific March 11th, 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan. I’ve been watching in horror as whole towns and villages are washed away. And now, as if the earthquake and tsunami aren’t gut wrenching enough, they are reporting explosions at the nuclear facilities signaling meltdown possibilities. I do not claim to know why God is allowing this to happen, but I do know there are lessons to be learned from this horrible disaster.
Our proverb warns that if you trust in your money, you will fall. This proverb dovetails beautifully with the parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:13-21). In the parable, a rich man’s farm yielded an overabundant crop. In fact, his storehouses could not hold it all. He says to himself, “This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ “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?’ “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
Now, let me first say that there is nothing wrong with expanding your business (building bigger storehouses), planning for the future and for retirement. God wants us to do these things. In fact, this is good stewardship of the things God has given to us. However, the rich fool is concerned only with gathering as much as he can for himself. The rich fool’s major flaw was that his profits, security and pleasure were the center of his earthly life. God was left out entirely. He planned well for his life BEFORE death but he gave no thought to his life AFTER death. If you store up for yourself, giving no thought to others or to God, the result will be disastrous.
At the end of the parable, Jesus said, “A person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” So what does it mean live a life that is rich towards God ? What does it look like to live for eternity, storing up treasures in heaven? There are 4 important areas to ponder:
1) Look at your checkbook. Your checkbook is a barometer of your spiritual life. Are you helping others with your money? Do you give to people or organizations whose mission is furthering God’s kingdom? Or do you spend the majority of your earnings on yourself (clothes, vacations, entertainment, cars, homes, retirement funds, etc?)
2) How do you spend your time? What unique abilities has God given you and are you using them to serve others and the Kingdom in any way?
3) Are you obedient to the Word of God? Do you read the Bible? Do you talk to Jesus (pray)? Do you worship Him?
4) What is your greed quotient? Do you keep track of every book, tool or dollar you lend, every minute you work overtime, every gift you give to others? Do you grudgingly give to charities or with joy?
To be rich towards God means that you are actively pursuing God, are mindful of His commands, and you are using your wealth to fulfill God’s priorities. Too often we get caught up in the American dream. Our pursuit of happiness is killing us because it is causing us to be self centered like the rich young fool. Do not make the mistake of climbing the corporate ladder to the exclusion of all else. You may find that when you get to the top of the ladder, it was leaning against the wrong wall. If we forget God, we will lose our soul.
The American dream also includes retirement for many. There is nothing wrong with retiring. If God has blessed you with the financial means so that you can retire at 50, great! But God has not blessed you so that you can do nothing but eat, drink and be merry. If you are mentally and physically able, God wants you to use your time or your talents for His kingdom. Retirees, you have SO much to offer and so much to gain when you are actively serving God and others.
Please realize that your life is a gift from God and that you will be accountable for your stewardship of it. God says the only things that survive this world are faith and the things we do for God, His Kindgom and for others, in His name. Remember, everything that is physical, every object we have, every toy we have, every dollar we earn, all of it will be left behind when we leave this earth. All of those things will belong to someone else. Work for the things that you can take with you when you die. A relationship with Christ, a life of honor, faith, purity, kindness and love…these are treasures that we can store up in heaven. These things make us flourish, not earthly riches.