How to be rich and live richly
We discovered last time that we’re rich. Richly rich. That if we make over $32,400 per year ($15.59/hour)…we’re in the top 1% of the world. But we also found out that no matter what our income amounts to, we shouldn’t feel guilty that we have wealth, because God richly provides us with all things to enjoy.
God gives good gifts, and gifts are given for the enjoyment of the one receiving it. Maybe someone got a better gift than you, and it doesn’t seem fair…however, our jealousy tends to evaporate once we expand our comparison circle to include the rest of the world.
So now that we know we’re rich, what do we do?
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught:
Don’t collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
A few observations:
· Jesus gave no indication that being wealthy in this life (or the next) is wrong.
· What is considered valuable now is not going to be what is considered valuable in the next life.
· How we obtain wealth in this life is not how we store up treasures for the next life.
During his ministry, Jesus met many rich folks who didn’t handle their wealth very well in light of eternity. A few examples include the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16-22), also the Pharisees and their scribes (Luke 5:29-31). The rich were also featured in Jesus’ parables as bad examples of how to live life in the present age (Luke 12:13-21, Luke 16:19-31, and Luke 18:9-14).
So, what should us rich 1%ers do? What does God consider the right way to handle the wealth He’s given us?
Paul addressed that topic in his instructions to Timothy:
1 Timothy 6:17-19
Instruct those who are rich in the present age not to be arrogant or to set their hope on the uncertainty of wealth, but on God, who richly provides us with all things to enjoy.
Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the age to come, so that they may take hold of life that is real.
Being rich in the age to come means being other-focused in the present age. Whether we make $15,000 a year or $1,500,000 a year – what we do with what God has given us will determine the foundation of our lives in the next life.
That thought just blows me away, so dwell on it for just a moment with me. Everything in this life is building *only* the foundation for our lives in eternity. What we build, the work we do, the experiences we will have in the next life…are going to be based upon the choices we make in the present age.
My mentor, Joe, would tell me often “This life is just boot camp for the next.” C.S. Lewis wrote that our present lives are simply the cover and the title page…when we enter Eternity future, we will begin Chapter 1 of the Great Story that never ends, where each chapter is better than the one before.
Partnering with God now affects how we can partner with God in Eternity. We should absolutely enjoy the gifts God has given us, but don’t enjoy them selfishly. Do good. Be rich in good works. Be generous. Be willing to share.
Lay a good foundation for the age to come. Find and take hold of life that is real.