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Being Rich Toward God (Cure for Greed)

Our guest speaker this past Sunday, Watermark’s own Stephen Carlson, posed an important question for us to consider: Am I rich toward God or rich toward self? Let’s face it, we live in a world that nurtures us to be pretty selfish; and we don’t need a lot of encouragement. Have you watched toddlers interact lately?  Our first word is not always, “mama” or “dada”; it’s “mine!” We have a natural bend towards selfishness, don’t we? So being rich towards self can feel right to us. Yet, in His parable of the Rich Fool, Jesus stresses the importance of not being rich towards self, but rather, being rich towards God!  

So what does it mean to be rich towards self? Jesus warned a man who was trying to use Jesus to help settle a money dispute between him and his brother to: “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:14b)

Greed can get the best of us if we’re not careful. The pursuit of possessions can possess us, if we’re not on guard! To help us see how quickly greed can take root in our lives, Jesus told The Parable of the Rich Fool, captured in Luke 12:16-20.  

16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

20 “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?’  21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:16-21

Stephen shared three characteristics of greed found in this parable:

1)  Greed causes us to be inwardly focused. (Luke 12:16-19)  

Count the number of times you see “I” in these verses. This fellow had a selfish focus with his wealth; he planned to store it all up for himself. Wealth is not a bad thing, but there are some perils to prosperity, according to pastor and author Warren Wiersbe.  Wealth can choke the Word of God (Matthew 13:22), create snares and temptations (1 Timothy 6:6-10; 17-19), and give you a false sense of security. People who are satisfied only with the things that money can buy are in great danger of losing the things that money cannot buy.

2) Greed causes us to believe we’re in control and we have no need for God. (Luke 12:20)

Wealth can create a false sense of security. “Having it all” in this world means nothing in the next. We all came into this world with nothing, and we will all depart it the same way. All of us will stand before God in the same way one day, and at that moment God will not ask us, “how much money did you make” or “how much stuff did you accumulate” or “how many storage units did you fill up?”  I think it is much more likely that He will ask us, “what did you do for my Son Jesus Christ” and “what did you do with what I entrusted to you?” How will you answer those questions?  

3) Greed causes us to ignore what matters most, being rich toward God! (Luke 12:21)

So what does it mean to be rich toward God? Being rich toward God is understanding that everything we have comes from God. There is nothing that we have that didn’t ultimately come from Him. Even the hands and brains we use to earn money came from Him. So then, we can use what He has given us for the good of others and for His glory! I’ve heard it said, wealth can be enjoyed and employed at the same time if our purpose is to honor God.  

Stephen shared two practical, Biblical ways we can be rich toward God:

  • Be Kingdom focused

31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.  Luke 12:31

  • Be servant-minded

33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:33-34

So, again, consider this question: Am I rich towards God or rich towards self? For much more, click here to listen to Stephen’s message: The Parables - Part 5 - Being Rich Toward God.


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