I am rich

Christian Wealth

Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. ~ 2 Peter 1:3-8, NIV

We teach our kids that money is a tool. Not inherently evil (please, please don’t misquote Paul’s letter to Timothy!), not necessarily good. A tool, that can be made useful for others, or can be wielded to destruction (usually to ourselves). Investing money is a method to build wealth—to use appropriately and to share with others. It isn’t a recipe for self-esteem, for social ladder-climbing, or for showing off. Investing wisely is simply a way to use what we have been blessed with to be responsible and to bless others, glory to God.

I thought of that investment principle as I read through Second Peter. These qualities of faith are listed a bit like a ‘snowball concept’ in the financial world. Add to faith goodness. In other words, invest your faith in goodness—it will increase both yours and other’s faith. Add to goodness knowledge—continue building that faith, which has increased by goodness, with knowledge. To knowledge self-control . . .perseverance . . . godliness . . . mutual affection . . . and love.

The path to Christian wealth. Not a trail to large bank accounts, but to qualities of faith that make us useful and productive. I like that. I want to be useful—I think we’ve been created with purpose.

When you think of Christian wealth, do you think of a faith that is made useful?

I am rich

Poor, Yet Rich

He [Jesus] looked up and saw the rich dropping their offerings into the temple treasury.  He also saw a poor widow dropping in two tiny coins.  “I tell you the truth,” He said.  “This poor widow has put in more than all of them.  For all these people have put in gifts out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21:1-3 HCSB

I sat in the little African house, sweating.  The rainforest sent bugs through the open windows to crawl on the walls, painted a nauseating shade of hospital green. 

My host arrived, smiling, to get the room ready for the church service.  His home was one of the largest in the village, and so there we gathered.  I was early by African standards, (on time by American), so I was the only one there.

I watched him, puzzled.  He carried several of his wife’s skirts – which were really just lengths of fabric in eye-popping prints.  He pushed a chair up to a wall, stood on it, pulled a roll of duct tape out of his pocket, and taped up the material. He drug the chair around the room to hang all the skirts, sometimes scrunching the fabric into butterfly patterns, sometimes draping it artfully, always securing it with the grey duct tape.

Really?  He thought that made the place look better? I wanted to roll my American eyes.  But what irritated me the most was the duct tape.  This guy didn’t make more than $10 a week, and duct tape cost two or three dollars in the market.  He was wasting his money.

Instantly, the Holy Spirit convicted me, as sharply as He’s ever spoken to my heart.

You are witnessing the widow’s mite, and I am very pleased.

My host was beautifying his home as an act of worship, and quite suddenly, the most stunning of stained glass windows were not as lovely as that duct-taped fabric. Cathedrals have been built by the surplus riches of the elite, but this humble farmer outdid them all.

I may have more in my bank account than that man will ever see, but that day, he gathered riches in heaven untold.

I am rich

Wealth in Wisdom

“I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge [and] discretion.

I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me.

Riches and honor [are] with me, Enduring riches and righteousness.

My fruit [is] better than gold, yes, than fine gold, and my revenue than choice silver.

I traverse the way of righteousness, In the midst of the paths of justice,

That I may cause those who love me to inherit wealth, that I may fill their treasuries.”

~Proverbs 8:12, 17-21, NKJV

How do I define rich?

I have head knowledge enough to know that it shouldn’t be money or stuff. But in practical, everyday life, I’m going to have to own that the barometer of wealth usually is the number in my account. Or the stuff that I get to buy. Or the toys I’ve accumulated. It’s almost cliché to say that I am rich in Christ—something that’s easily said, but not as simple to digest.

Proverbs eight is a soliloquy of wisdom. She calls out in the streets, inviting the prudent to inherit her wealth. And what is that wealth, exactly? Truth. Righteousness. Knowledge. Understanding. Discretion. Where did she get this treasury? Proverbs 1:7, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” From God Himself.

How does God define rich? Wisdom. And it is available, He invites us to seek it.

When you think ‘I am rich,’ what comes to mind—and does that idea extend beyond materials and circumstances?

 

I am rich

Persecuted and Rich

To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: “The First and the Last, the One who was dead and came to life, says: I know your tribulation and poverty, yet you are rich. … Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer.  Look, the Devil is about to throw some of you into prison to test you, and you will have tribulation for 10 days.  Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.  Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.  The victor will never be harmed by the second death.” Rev. 2:8-11

In China, Christians are often arrested, thrown into prison and sometimes tortured.  In the Middle East, they are disowned by their families, sometimes killed. In West Africa, they can be ostracized from their communal society. In Nigeria, their churches are targets.

Most believers in the West have never tasted tribulation like these verses describe.  For now.  Will our faith hold, if one day we are held to the fire like so many of our siblings across the sea?

Jesus himself spoke these words to people who faced imprisonment, torture and death.  He reminded them that even if the government stole their houses and lands, even if it tore them from their children and families, they were rich.  It takes a mighty faith to believe that when one is homeless and sick, when one is lying on the slimy floor of a dungeon.  “I am wealthy beyond imagination.”

For those who endure to the end, Jesus promises the crown of life.  Imagine, stepping out of a prison cell into Heaven itself, trading the grey walls for golden streets.  Imagine a woman at the end of a whip, bleeding on the dusty ground of her village, arriving into the blinding light of God’s throne room and hearing the words “Well done, good and faithful servant.” 

Then, truly, those persecuted and poverty stricken will see the riches they have longed for and trusted in – the riches of God’s presence and rest, a home with Him where they will weep no more.

I’ve not faced the suffering that persecuted believers endure, but that doesn’t mean I won’t.  And even if I don’t, these verses apply to me, too, to anyone who has given his or her life to Christ unreservedly, who is seeking His kingdom instead of worldly success.  Those of us who follow Jesus heart and soul have treasure in Heaven that no one can steal.

I am a wealthy woman, and no man can take that from me.

I am rich

I am Rich: A Joint Post

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; although He was rich, for your sake He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich. 2 Cor. 8:9

From Susan

I’ve seen the outside of Buckingham Palace.  It’s dazzling. If the seat of such an earthly kingdom is so opulent, imagine the throne room of Heaven. That’s where Jesus belongs, enthroned above the heavens, rich beyond comprehension.  And yet, he left all that to step into human clothes, to be born in a stable and to walk the dusty roads of Earth without so much as a simple frame house to call his own.

Talk about culture shock. I mean, I thought moving from the United States to a third-world country was difficult.  What about moving from Heaven to Earth? Jesus became poor so that we, too, could enjoy the riches of heaven.   He died a criminal’s death on this sin-wracked planet so that I could become fabulously wealthy, a daughter of the King.

Paul penned these words  in an effort to persuade a wealthy church to share with a financially struggling one.  Why would he find it necessary to remind Christians with money about the poverty Jesus endured for them?

From Jen

Perhaps because earthly wealth is never enough. Never.

I was thinking this over on Sunday morning as I watched the Compassion promo video play. Running through my mind were the receipts of some recent purchases . . .

Clothing at Gordman’s – $82.00 (Like we need them. Our closets are packed.)

Lunch with my sister – $39.00

Easter gifts/shoes for my kids – $137.00

Plants for my gardening addiction – $62.00

Nothing wrong with spending a little. Nothing wrong with stuff, per se. But, although this all makes me look wealthy—which by 99% of the world’s standards, I am—it’s not what makes me rich.

Jesus became poor so that I would have an eternal inheritance. He also said that where ever my treasure is, my heart will be there with it. So, when it comes to opportunities to give, such as supporting a child in poverty for a mere $32.00 a month, I hear Paul reminding me, “Jesus gave everything so that you would be eternally rich. Can you not lay a little down to follow his example?”

What opportunities do you have right now to share your eternal inheritance? Is Jesus asking you to lay something down for someone else?