On January 17, 2019, the Bureau of Labor Statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor reported that at the end of the 4th quarter of 2018, the median income for a full-time wage or salary worker on a weekly basis was $900. Based on a 40-hour work week, this translates to a yearly income of approximately $46,800. What this means is that the average American is not living up the “high life” and that for families, it is often necessary for both husband and wife to work to make ends meet. However, for a moment think about what you would do if you suddenly became the richest American? What would change about your lifestyle? How would you manage your new-found wealth? It might be fun to dream about what you’d do with all that money, but if we are honest with ourselves, probably the first thoughts for the majority of us we rather selfish thoughts. We might have gotten around to helping the poor or making a donation to some organization (even if just for the tax break), and oh yes – let’s not forget the tithe to our church. Doesn’t that seem backwards? Our first thought should have been not only the tithe we would be able to give back to God but also an offering that might help our church meet a need. Then maybe see how we could help our community through the wonderful organizations that seek to help others – and not worry about the tax break for doing so. Then finally look to ourselves last.
No matter how wealthy a person is while here on earth, money will not get them into heaven. Honors, riches, and the greatest of enjoyments mean absolutely nothing when one faces eternity without Christ. None of these in and of themselves will suffice to gain entrance into Heaven. If all these were gained, but they cause a person “lose himself” through rejecting Christ, then that person has lost everything that holds eternal value. Any person that dies without Christ as their Savior, will be eternally bankrupt.
This in no way implies that a wealthy person cannot be saved. However, money can sometimes be an obstacle to people recognizing their need for a Savior. Jesus taught in Matthew 19:24, “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” It becomes very easy for the wealthy to depend on themselves and their money, not unlike the children of Israel with their continual problem of idolatry. Every time they turned to false gods, they forgot the God that brought them out of Egypt. They turned to their own abilities rather than remaining dependent on God. It is too easy for money to become an idol that we obsess over. And the more of it we have, the less we feel the need to depend on God or to even feel like we need God at all in our lives. The more we have that belongs to this world, the more we are tied to it. In Luke 18, we find the rich young ruler who wanted to know what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. His focus was one how he could earn eternal life. Jesus replied to him: “You know the commandments: do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and your mother.” The rich young ruler responded: “All these thing I have kept from my youth.” But Jesus knew the man had more interest in his wealth on earth than any treasures in heaven. So Jesus told him, “You still lack one thing Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” The man became very sad because he was very rich. As a response to the man’s sadness, Jesus said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” The people standing near said, “who then can be saved?’ Jesus answered, “The things which are impossible with me are possible with God.” Wealth, whether one has an abundance of it or a great lack of it, holds no merit on eternal life. No one can be saved by their own efforts, but only through the grace of God is one able to obtain salvation.
God, may the entrapment of wealth not blind us to a false happiness that leads us away from you. May we keep our eyes on you and your grace that paves the way for us to obtain eternal life with you through the sacrifice of Christ as payment for our sins. Thank you for always meeting our every need and for all the many blessings you give us every day. May we always see You at work in each blessing with a heart of thankful praise.
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