Tuesday, September 12, 2017

September 13, 2017

"There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores." Luke 16:19-21

If you causally or randomly read the New Testament you could conclude that Jesus doesn't like rich people. In several of His stories He makes them the bad guys and the poor people are the victims of these villainous wealthy folk. You might wonder if He would buy into our current culture of class envy where the people of means are being demonized and punished via tax laws and governmental policies.

Was Jesus promoting class envy? Did He have a grudge against the wealthy?

Let me remind you of an encounter he had with a young man identified only as "the rich young ruler". Jesus appealed to this young man to get his priorities in order and come follow Him. But in the end, the young man was more invested in his wealth than in his spiritual well-being. When he declined Jesus' offer and walked away the record shows that Jesus was very sad.

Also consider the fact that many of the early Patriarchs were extremely wealthy people. Abraham was. Isaac was. Jacob was, for example.

Why would a God Who owns everything be envious of anyone with a large net worth? He's not. He cares very little about stuff. In Heaven, gold is used for paving! They fix potholes with it!

Consider who He is having a conversation with in this portion of Scripture. He is talking to greedy, self-righteous people who were trying to maintain an appearance of piety while looking for every angle to enrich themselves. In other words, they were hypocritical frauds. That is what bothered Jesus, not their riches but their poverty of spirit.

In addition to their hypocritical hearts, Jesus despised the harm their greedy behavior inflicted on the poor.

Scroll up a few verses and you see the statement Jesus made regarding the responsibility of riches, "To whom much is given, much shall be required." Jesus isn't as interested in what you have as He is interested in what has you. If you are selfishly hoarding riches trying to create a heaven on earth while doing nothing to help relieve the hell of the poor, that is a problem. And that is the point.

Our founder, John Wesley, often said, "Make all you can, save all you can, and give all you can."Jesus would say, "Amen".

You can't buy your way into Heaven but you can spend your money and your time in a way that keeps you out. Invest all your heart, all your hopes, and all you have in Jesus. That is where real riches are found!