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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Being Rich with God

Luke 12:16-21 (ESV)
16  And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17  and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18  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. 19  And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ 20  But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21  So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

I read this scripture this morning and immediately thought of my retirement account.  It was fine until the recession in 2007. Then, it fell apart. It recovered the lost ground by the end of 2012 and I put the account in cash for most of last year. That, of course, was the best year the stock market has had for a very long time. I didn't lose anything by putting it in cash but I didn't make anything either. Recently, I was lamenting over the money it would have made if I hadn't been so scared of losing it all again.

This parable made me remember that "rich" has nothing to do with what I have in the bank or in the stock market. None of this will matter once I am dead. I only have one account that I must keep secure. That's the account I have with God. I must make sure that I am rich toward Him.

People don't like for me to preach about money. Maybe they think that I don't know anything about it. I sometimes think they believe I have a "ministers" grocery store at which I shop. They act like I don't know what things cost or that their resources are limited. They don't know that I am just as human, shop at the same stores and have their concerns.

But the real reason they don't want me preaching about money is their fear that I will point out what the Bible says about it. They are afraid I will tell them that they are robbing God when they fail to tithe. They are afraid that I will talk about being a cheerful giver. They are afraid I will tell them about the dangers of borrowing money. They want to think the Bible has nothing to say about money but they are wrong.

Most people don't trust God to supply their needs. Maybe that has something to do with how they spend the money they already have. I go to their houses, see the big screen televisions, note the new cars in the driveway, wade through the designer clothes strewn in the den, and hear them tell how they are broke. They want to know when God is going to meet their needs. They don't even recognize His provision which they have frivolously thrown into the wind. No, God has supplied all their needs. They spent it on their wants. Now they want God to pony up a new pile of money.

What does that have to do with my retirement account? Well, I was as worried about my retirement account just as much as people are worried about whether or not God has supplied their needs. You see, God says that He will meet our needs while we seek His kingdom and righteousness. That's like saying, "Hold onto my hand and I'll walk you safely across this busy street." That, of course, means that God gives us enough to buy extras but not only extras. We have to seek Him and His righteousness with what we have.

Being rich with God is the only way to handle what we have been given. Being rich with God is the only way to receive His provision. I just makes sense to be rich with God.


Anthony Chia said...

I can understand your struggle. Though my scenario is different from yours, I too periodically have this issue of monetary prospect stared at me. I am currently having this staring at me. For several years now, I wanted to function more for the Lord, but I find it hard to let go of my secular job which earns me my income needed for the commitment I have for my children.

If I don’t get on staff in a church, and it is difficult for me to do so, to get on staff, because of the lack of formal academic qualification in the faith, although I do have quite a grounding in the Word over the many years of ploughing through, and applying the Word. Then, there is the work I perceived as the ministry that I am to major in; I may NOT get to do what I think I am supposed to do, joining a church. But if I get to be employed in a church as a ministry staff, I would get a regular income, small it maybe (small is still a problem!).

If I go out and do an independent ministry of my own on a full-time basis, I have wondered and wondered how money can come for the ministry as well as for my own needs. I know ministry is for helping people, and consumes resources, and that, of course includes money; it is NOT for income generating, but I do need income.

The alternative is again to shelve any “do more” prospect, to a later time. A friend said, that would be another 10 years from now, if I want to see my 2 children through university education. I would be 63 then! Depending on who I talk to, I get different propositions, wait and don’t wait till then! Then, of course, there is the “You better be sure God calls you to do that – leave your secular job, especially that you are of this old age!” Oh, it is NOT easy.

Somehow, this appears to quite true: “It is easier to hear from God for other people, than to be hearing unequivocally from God for ourselves!” Oh! Where is my faith for this?! 10 years later, well, life can be demanded of me, tonight, too! Oh, why can’t I be richer towards my God, although I have deliberately avoided higher paid but more pressurising job these years, in order that I could be better positioned to serve Him (already somewhat tent-making)?!

Lord, I have NOT shelved it again, yet.

I know you have your wife recovering from cancer and you are much older than me; you are NOT having it, easy either. Hopefully, your grown-up children can be of some assistance in times of need. At the meantime, maybe no retirement from serving the Lord! Do take care of yourself and your loved one, your wife.

Lord, would you comfort your servant and his wife with your attending presence. As long as they are with breath, let their days be of peace and joy, for they have followed you, and have no intention to stop. Lord, may you do for them, as said in Ps 91:14-16, including the granting of long life, for I do know Ps Prentis loves you. The physical may give way one day, but Lord, you shall preserve their spirited soul until they come face to face with you before the throne of the Father. I ask this of you, God, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

Prentis McGoldrick said...

The question is not whether or not I have enough. The question is what does God want me to do. The rest is in His hands. this is the only way to be rich toward Him. I am embarrassed to say that I, too often, ask if I have enough before asking what He wants me to do.