Been a while on a mid-week devotion but felt the leading to continue where we left off…
I wonder what your response is to the title of the email. What comes to your mind when you think of the term “wealthy Christian”?
If I simply asked what came to mind when you think of the term “wealthy”, it may be easier for you to speak your thoughts. You might list names like Bezos, Gates, Musk, etc, or you might list successful athletes like LeBron James or Tom Brady, or you might even mention billionaires who control the oil industry (maybe a middle east prince?). Some of you may take it a different direction and speak of the person who loves what they do for a living, or who had an abundantly healthy family.
If then, we turned the attention to the word “Christian”, I imagine most would speak of someone who believes in and follows Jesus Christ. We may differ some on how particular aspects of that look, but I would expect that most expressions would defer to the teachings of Jesus and the New Testament.
So now let us go back to the term “wealthy Christian”. Is a wealthy Christian someone who follows Jesus and has an astounding bank account? Someone who is a successful businessman or woman who also attends church on Sunday?
Money and faith are tricky topics. I once had a man (someone who had a higher income than average) criticize a sermon he heard me preach on YouTube about money. He was upset with some of the things I said. While this man was and is a friend (who has never attended our church but does attend elsewhere), he was critical of the approach that I had taken in saying that money is a dangerous tool. In the message, I compared money to a surgeon’s scalpel and other tools that are very important and effective, but also potentially dangerous when used incorrectly. It was the talk of money and danger that my friend struggled most with. How about you?
Back to the point at hand. I could spend much time in writing on and on about my thoughts (and lose your interest quickly!) but let’s look at one of the times Jesus speaks about money in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.Matthew 6:19-21 NIV
If you had to define the term “wealthy Christian” on the basis of this paragraph alone, what might you conclude?
Jesus has a lot to say about money, and while an in depth study of all He says is good, we don’t have space for that here. Rather, let’s look at this simple, but exceedingly important, passage.
The passage makes no mention of a monetary amount, and we all know that a person with a few dollars or many dollars could be consumed by the amount they have, let alone consumed by the desire to have more.
The passage really doesn’t speak of money at all, but rather, it speaks of treasure. Specifically, this passage speaks of treasure and the heart. What we long for impacts who we truly are.
If I long for power, popularity or possessions, then I will pursue them with my life and actions, and there, in the midst of the pursuit, will be my identity.
On the other hand, if I long for, more than anything, to be with Jesus in this life and the one to come, then there, within my pursuit of Jesus, will be my identity.
Our longing is not determined by what we say, but by how we live.
A person could be desperately poor and want nothing more than Jesus. Such a person would be a wealthy Christian.
Likewise, a person could have been handed a life of power, popularity and possessions, but see all of that as merely temporary dust in comparison with the riches of knowing Jesus. Such a person would also be a wealthy Christian correct?
However, if a person, poor or rich, would rather lose their freedom to worship the Lord, and be willing to forsake the family of believers rather than lose money or power etc., such a person is truly impoverished.
So how do we conclude? Money is a tool. It takes the form of paper, coin, checks, accounts, possessions, and even privileges. Faith, on the other hand, is a way of life. It places us, all that we are and have, into the hands of the Lord (Master) Jesus.
Faith should always direct our use of our tools (money is just one of many that are at our disposal) because the center of our lives here on earth should be about the resurrected life that is to come (one that is far greater and endures much longer than the here and now). If that is our heart, joining with the disciples and early Church, to live in the power of the Resurrected Christ here and forever, then whether we have much or little in the way of money, we are truly wealthy Christians.