Thursday, May 8, 2014

What's Wrong With Being Wealthy?

It is very difficult not to be a double-minded person these days. We have moved so far away from spiritual disciplines that to even find the time to read two chapters of the Bible each day is hard. And if we can't do the minimum then how can we expect to move into spiritual maturity? No, it doesn't just happen. If we are not studying the Word, spending time in habitual prayer, worshiping, tithing, serving, and the various other disciplines then we are not giving the Spirit the ability to have free reign in us to teach us, break us, melt us, shape us and fill us with the presence of God every day. We are those who try to be spiritual but struggle with a carnal mind.

Let's be honest with each other, there are a lot of things that attract us, that demand our time, that capture our attention, that all belong to the flesh. That is the definition of being carnal, being controlled by our body (flesh) with all of its passions, appetites, and sensual pleasures. If you can't do what you want to do to profit your spirit because your body is demanding obedience to its demands, you are carnal. There is a reason Scriptures say that we have to love Yahweh with all our heart, all our mind, all our soul and all our strength. Nothing else can come before him.

Jesus gave a warning about relying on the pleasures of this world and I want to clarify before we get into it; there is nothing wrong with using the resources of this world for Yahweh's purposes. There is nothing wrong with being rich or having lots of resources as long as we understand that we are merely stewards of these things and they are to be spent on things of the Kingdom, not things to satisfy our body. The attitude and perspective is crucial:

24 But woe to you who are rich,
    For you have received your consolation. (Luke 6:24)

Jesus did not say it was impossible for the rich to enter heaven, only that it was difficult. No less difficult than a poor man who spends his life pursuing riches. It is the attitude that we don't need Yahweh because we have everything that we need; we are self-reliant. People who spend lots of time in prayer do so because they understand their dependence; those who don't spend a lot of time in prayer do not see they are dependent on Jesus. Jesus is saying that if you find satisfaction in your wealth here and see no need for him, you have received all the blessings you are going to receive and there will be nothing for you in the world to come. A sobering thought.

Woe to you who are full,
    For you shall hunger. (v. 25a)

There is a lot of talk about self-love, and finding satisfaction in oneself but I think it should be the other way around. I think we need to accept the truth that Father absolutely loves us and desires nothing but the best for us. He will walk us through struggles to strengthen us and prepare us for the world to come because that is his priority for us. But to find satisfaction in ourselves is wrong. Our satisfaction is found in Jesus alone. It is Jesus who defines us and gives us purpose. If we do find satisfaction in ourselves and we are "full" here, Jesus warns we will be hungry in the world to come.

Woe to you who laugh now,
    For you shall mourn and weep. (v. 25b)

Perhaps this is a woe aimed at our age more than any other. What is it that we crave for all of our days, the thing that has become our motivation to work, the thing we think we have a right to possess? Pleasure, entertainment, diversions, amusements in whatever form. It is all that some of us can talk about and we think it is normal. We have raised an entire generation with this as their core purpose, to be entertained. It is no longer satisfaction in a job well done but a minimal effort for maximum pay so we can go out and have a life. Thus the desire for early retirement and a booming entertainment industry. But it is bad news because such a heart will be filled with weeping and mourning in the world to come when they realize what they have lost out on.

Woe to you when all men speak well of you,
    For so did their fathers to the false prophets. (v. 26)

We see this happening right before our eyes as people compromise the Scriptures in order to be accepted and well thought of. We have many pastors and teachers causing damage in this world because of their desire for popularity and fame, but you don't have to be a pastor to have this applied to you. Many of us compromise every day, doing things and accepting things in our lives in order to not rock the boat, to keep our friends, to keep trouble from our door. But, is it better to have trouble in this world and rewards in the next, or rewards in this world and trouble in the next?

The fundamental problem is that we are looking to live our rewards in this world instead of in the one to come. We think Jesus wants us to have pleasure and comfort in this place. We think that Father is occupied with making us happy here, which is all backwards. We are the servants to Father's will for the world. We are here to pour out our lives so that others might know Jesus and live. It is not about our rights, pleasures and comforts. It is not about justice. It is about Father's will that everyone be saved and we are workers of his will, not matter the cost to us.

However, we have mixed this with the carnal thinking of our day and now find that these woes may actually apply to us. What will it take for the Body of Christ to wake up and realize we need healing. We need repentance and restoration. We need to have the fog removed from our minds, to throw off the patterns of this world and set Jesus before us. We need to fix our eyes on him, build the relationship and pursue Father's will. If we don't, we could be very surprised in the world to come.

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