In Pursuit of Spiritual Wealth
Can you believe how much money professional athletes are demanding from their respective teams these days? Neither can I! One has to wonder when this insane escalation of salaries will come to an end.
Well, the answer might be “never,” or at least “not anytime soon.” This same discussion has been taking place for more than 50 years. Surely there will have to be a point at which this becomes unsustainable, but clearly we are not there yet.
Money is a sensitive topic in all phases of society, including the church. The Bible has a lot to say about money and material wealth, and, frankly, much of it is not particularly popular. After all, we work hard for our wages; why should we be asked to give them away?
The Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes (5:10) offers this tidbit of wisdom: “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.”
Isn’t that the truth! An obsession with money and material possessions only leads to a quest for more, until it all becomes a futile and frustrating pursuit.
Most of us would admit that we have too much “stuff.” Some say that’s why God created garage sales — so we can get rid of the stuff we no longer need (or never needed in the first place). But once the sale is over, we use the money we’ve made to buy more “stuff.” It’s an endless cycle.
So we turn to Scripture for guidance, and it is there that we come across this familiar but perplexing passage in the Gospel of Matthew (19:21-26), “when Jesus said to the inquiring young man, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.”
Most of us can relate to the dilemma of the young man because we put such a heavy emphasis on wealth and material possessions, especially these days. We’re happy to give a portion of our earnings to the church and other worthy causes, and many are willing to tithe, but do we really have to give up everything?
I guess it depends on how literally we interpret the passage. Remember Jesus says in the passage, “If you want to be perfect…” None of us is perfect, and I’m not sure we have to give up all that we own to reach the Kingdom of Heaven, but we are certainly called on to be generous and to provide assistance for those in need. What I do think Jesus wants, however, is for us to give completely of ourselves to him.
In Matthew 22:37-40, he says: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
To me, that is the essence of the total commitment that Jesus really seeks from all of us. After all, everything in this world will one day pass away, so rather than focus on our wants, it is best to focus on our needs and just as importantly the needs of others.
Until We Meet Again, Be Blessed! – Pastor John