As we continue to look through the issues around wealth for Christians at All Nations, one theme has come up in both of the last two sermons. We tend to think that money and possessions are worth far more than God says they are worth.
How do you measure success? Well, for most in the West (and the East is possibly worse in this respect rather than better), it is in earthly terms. You are successful if you have a nice house in a nice suburb, if you drive a nice car, if you can afford luxuries like technological gadgets and overseas holidays. If your lifestyle is like that you have it made, and you have something to be proud of that others will envy.
But wait – not quite so fast.
In the sermon last week we looked at Luke 16:1-13, which is well worth the time you could spend on it. (The parable might be the topic of another blog post at another time). But for our purposes now, we will look just at three verses to make sure we get the logic straight; they are Luke 16:10-12:
10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.
11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?
12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?
These three verses have the same structure as one another, and all work from the lesser to the greater. So in v10 the point is that if you are trustworthy in very little you can be trusted with much. Not so controversial really. But in the context of the parable, what does Jesus have in mind when he says “very little”? Well, go to v11. The “very little” is “unrighteous wealth”, which is not wealth obtained through some dodgy means, but everyday wealth, the money you have in the bank. Do you see the contrast here? Jesus contrasts ‘wealth’ with ‘true riches’; they are not the same thing. You might have a great deal of wealth, much success in the eyes of the world, and yet only have “very little”. What is worth far more is true riches, such as you get through Jesus: eternal life, joy, peace with God, certain hope, contentment. That is worth so much more than money and possessions.
And v12 goes further; this wealth is not even yours! We have seen that over and over again in our sermon series. All we have is not our own, it belongs to God. We cannot take it with us after we die. In eternal terms, it is not worth much at all, however much we have.
When we overvalue earthly riches, we are acting like a toddler. If you offer a toddler a biscuit now, or 5 biscuits tomorrow, they take the biscuit now. Every time. (Try it if you like!) But an older, more mature child will likely wait for the bigger payday tomorrow. Part of Christian maturity is starting to get more eternal perspective, just like physical maturity means you understand things more clearly. Wealth is worth far less than eternal true riches.
Don’t be a toddler. Money is not worth as much as you think it is.