I know what it is like to live in poverty. I know what it is like to have nothing. But I was not taught to hate everybody out there who had anything. My mother had enough wisdom to teach me godly principles.
She married a man who was already on Social Security and could not read or write, but she said to him, “Go get a job. Go mow yards. You can do it. You can do something.” And so he did. My mother worked every day. She said, “Son, look out there. Look at the fields. There is opportunity out there. There is the sound of abundance of rain.”
I looked out as a little boy who had nothing and realized that there are possibilities. But the wisdom of my mother seems to have become old-fashioned. Now, people too often wait for somebody to take care of them. They are dependent, but not on God.
Jesus told the parable of the “rich fool” in Luke 12:
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (vs 13-14)
We have people in this country who are like that person in the crowd. They don’t believe they have gotten what they are due. In some cases, there may be some validity to their claim, but Jesus was quick to point out that fools focus only on possessions.
And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ‘
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
“This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” (vs 15-21)
America has been blessed. Like the man in the parable, we have plenty of good things laid up for many years. But we have ceased to become rich toward God. We do not know the difference between right and wrong. In fact, we have called day “night” and evil “right.” We have allowed the rock-solid principles of God to erode and accepted moral relativism in its place.
Jesus did not call the rich man a fool because he produced a good crop. He did not curse the ground that gave abundance. The free market is not the problem. A healthy free market is part of the answer. The downfall happens when we think only of ourselves and hold things back from God.
After scolding the worldly foolishness of the rich man, Jesus comforted his followers by pointing out that the birds do not worry about what they will eat and the flowers do not worry about what they will wear. God takes care of them. It is natural for us to be concerned about such things, but Jesus calls us to move beyond the natural and live a life that is supernatural.
“And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” (vs 29-31)
Jesus acknowledged our need for material things. I would not focus so much of my ministry on giving people food, water, shelter, and other necessities if there was no biblical precedent for it. Jesus simply prioritized our lives. The pursuit of material things is called greed. That is what the world pursues. But when we seek God’s kingdom, He then gives us many of the very same things, yet it is called provision.
Prosperity is something we may enjoy, but it is not something we pursue. The only wealth that counts is the treasure that is laid up in heaven. We gain is by being “rich toward God” and seeking His Kingdom. When we do this, we are not only wise, but we also enjoy God’s provision and possess a treasure that no man can take away.
Watch LIFE Today this Monday as James and Betty share about “The Riches of Christ.”