Christ preached about wealth in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 6:19-24). You and I live in a land of wealth. Compared to much of the rest of the world, we ourselves are wealthy. Wealth is a tremendous stewardship from God; it is also the demise of many. Jesus tells a parable in Luke 12:15-21 to warn us of spiritual bankruptcy.

“Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions. And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. ‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:15–21)

Can you see how this fits into 21st century America? The leap is not far. We have many possessions. We have much success. We have wealth to manage. What will we do? Jesus provides three tips to manage success.  

Evict Scrooge

We all know who Ebenezer Scrooge is, so miserly, so tightwad, the word “scrooge” is now used as a label for those who are greedy. The rich man in the parable resembled Mr. Scrooge: successful, but stingy; owning much, but sharing little; great wealth, but no goodwill. They are both self-centered men. Scrooge had no friends; the rich man seeks his own personal counsel (no one else is in the picture, “reasoning to himself”) and his advice is completely self-focused. Evict Scrooge! If there be any stinginess or any self-centeredness within us, give notice! When it comes to our wealth, let us consider other people in our lives. Do we pursue friends? Are we “investing” in people? Let’s think, “fewer barns and more benevolence.”

Deny Yourself

In a materialistic, consumeristic culture, this makes for unpopular preaching. However, this is exactly what we need as citizens of this culture. To follow Christ, it is necessary (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23). But sadly, our rich man was a glutton of comforts: “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry” (he carries on another conversation with himself). His inability unwillingness to set aside personal pleasures became the smoke that blinded him from eternity. You and I have countless pleasures to occupy our bank accounts, our time, and our worship. The better we become at applying the power of God in our lives to self-denial, the more clearly we will see Christ. We will be better for it in the end.

Invest Eternally

By the world’s standards, the rich man made some good moves. Got wealth? Keep it and invest it for retirement. Have some time on your hands? Spend it on your pleasures. Need some good advice? The answers are within you: follow your heart. God gave His assessment in two words: “You fool!” The rich man spent his life investing in his own life and in his pleasures. Death came suddenly and unexpectedly. In the end, he was not “rich toward God.”

 Jesus isn’t against success. He opposes stinginess toward His Father. Money is one of the leading themes of His preaching ministry. And we need to hear it. In a culture of affluence, we cannot afford to skirt people and diminish God. The wealth we enjoy is a rich gift from God. Our task is to use it for Him: “to be rich toward God.” With the affection of Christ, Pastor Michael

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