Being Rich Toward God

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Being Rich Toward God

A recent survey indicated the following top ten New Yearís Resolutions for 2005:

10. Live life to the fullest
9. Get organized
8. Read more
7. Get involved in community service
6. Quit smoking or drinking
5. Work less
4. Get out of debt
3. Spend more time with family
2. Exercise more
1. Lose weight.

Did you notice the absence of any resolutions concerning a deeper relationship with God? Yet, that should be the number one resolution for anyone because when all is said and done, thatís all that really matters.

Of course most people stay away from resolutions anyway, all they really do is set you up for failure. Did any of you make any resolutions last year? Do you remember them? How did you do? Iím pretty sure I made one about losing weight, but about the only thing I lost was the resolution...oh well, thereís always 2005!

New Yearís resolutions are interesting. Resolutions that are kept, can be very valuable to a personís well being, physically, emotionally, and spiritually! If I resolve to lose weight and actually do it by committing to a healthy lifestyle of diet and exercise, I will likely reap physical benefits.

If I resolve to be a more sociable person in the year ahead, watching less TV and spending less time on line, I am likely to be better off emotionally.

And if I resolve to spend more time in Godís Word, with the idea of believing it to the point of acting on it, I will likely be better off spiritually.

These would all be good New Yearís resolutions.

But the Bible also cautions us about making too many plans. Jesus told the story of the rich farmer who had a bumper crop and decided to build bigger barns to hold his crop. With the bigger barns, he would be able to live off his crops for years to come.

Luk 12:20-21 GW  "But God said to him, 'You fool! I will demand your life from you tonight! Now who will get what you've accumulated?'  (21)  That's how it is when a person has material riches but is not rich in his relationship with God."

This passage point us in the direction of making New Years resolutions that really matter. Resolve to be rich in your relationship with God! This richness can be measured by the increase of spiritual fruit in the Christianís life, (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,, goodness, faithfulness,, gentleness, and self-control.) and it is obtained just as fruit from a tree is obtained, it is grown, in small incremental steps.

Richness in our relationship with God will increase as we believe His promises and respond obediently to His Word. Richness grows as we surrender ourselves to Him.

Rom 12:1 GW  Brothers and sisters, in view of all we have just shared about God's compassion, I encourage you to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, dedicated to God and pleasing to him. This kind of worship is appropriate for you.

Make this your daily prayer. Present yourself to the Lord daily. Tell Him, ďHere I am Lord!Ē I am offering my body, my life to you today as a living sacrifice.  What is it that You will have me to do?

Then watch what God does as He gives you opportunities to respond to the circumstances He brings your way. I guarantee you this prayer will give you the opportunities to change your life! It will give you opportunities to do good, and enrich your relationship with God!

In Randy Alcornís book The Treasure Principle he opens with the story of a visit to Cairo Egypt.
He was visiting with friends and they drove to an unkempt cemetery for missionaries. One of the tombstones read: William Borden: 1887-1913" Borden was a Yale graduate and heir to the great Borden Milk fortune, but he rejected that life of ease in order to bring the gospel to the Muslims.

After only four months of zealous missionary work in Egypt, Borden contracted spinal meningitis and died at the age of 25.  Alcorn says, he dusted off the gravestone and read these words: ďApart from faith in Christ, there is no explanation for such a life.Ē
After they left the cemetery, they headed for another of sorts. They went to the Egyptian National Museum to see the King Tut exhibit. Like Borden King Tut died at an early age...just 17. He was buried with solid gold chariots and thousands of gold artifacts. His gold coffin was found within gold tombs within gold tombs. The burial site was filled with tons of gold.

The Egyptians believed that you could die and take it with you. But you know what? Every piece of gold that was buried with King Tut was discovered by Howard Carter when he unearthed the tomb in 1922.

What a contrast! Yet where are these two young men now? One who lived in incredible luxury and called himself king is in the misery of a Christ-less eternity. The other, who lived a modest life in service to the King of Kings, is enjoying everlasting reward in the presence of Christ.

Tutís life was tragic because of an awful truth discovered way too late.  ďYou canít take it with you!Ē William Bordenís life was triumphant, because instead of leaving his treasures behind, he sent them on ahead.

Everyone of us is either going to die or be around when the Lord returns for His final judgement. For those of us who are in Christ, that is,  who have persevered and kept the faith, we will spend eternity in heaven, those who do not believe, who have not kept the faith will spend eternity in hell.  Those are the only two options.

When you leave this earth,  you will not be able to take a thing with you, however you can pack some bags with some things and have them sent on ahead. Now that sounds a little crazy at first, and Iím not talking about the guy who died and went to heaven and tried  to sneak a gold brick in with him. Godís response? You brought a chunk of pavement?

We arenít talking about stuffing suitcases with money and jewels and clothing, weíre talking about stuffing your suitcase with things that are rich toward God. We will be given rewards in heaven, the Bible is very clear about that. What will these rewards be?

I donít know, but the more I get to know the Rewarder, the more excited I get about the possibilities. Letís look at some Scriptures this evening concerning rewards and see what we can do to start packing our bags.

Eph 6:5-8 GW  Slaves, obey your earthly masters with proper respect. Be as sincere as you are when you obey Christ.  (6)  Don't obey them only while you're being watched, as if you merely wanted to please people. But obey like slaves who belong to Christ, who have a deep desire to do what God wants them to do.  (7)  Serve eagerly as if you were serving your heavenly master and not merely serving human masters.  (8)  You know that your heavenly master will reward all of us for whatever good we do, whether we're slaves or free people.

Two things of note here. Pack your bag with a good employment record. Jobs come and go, but while you are at work, work as unto the Lord. Look at the promise that awaits those who work with this attitude. ďYou know that your heavenly master will reward all of us for whatever good we do,Ē
A Christian who is a good, honest worker, is being rich toward God and storing up heavenly treasure. That should help the next time you are having ďone of those daysĒ at work this coming year.

Luk 6:22,23 GW  Blessed are you when people hate you, avoid you, insult you, and slander you because you are committed to the Son of Man.  Rejoice then, and be very happy! You have a great reward in heaven. That's the way their ancestors treated the prophets.

We arenít talking about going around and being a jerk for Jesus, but we are talking about packing our bags with a witness for the name of Jesus. This year, resolve to say the name of Jesus publicly. Donít use it as a cuss word. Stop bringing shame or being ashamed of the name above all names, let it flow off your lips in everyday conversation like  honey from the comb!  Jesus!

Did you ever notice something about rich people? They donít drive a car....,  They drive a Lexus or a Cadillac, or a BMW, if Jesus is the Lord of your life, tell others whoís driving you! In so doing you will be rich toward God.  

Then thereís the parable of the talents: ďSo he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ďLord, you delivered to me five talents, look I have gained five more talents beside them. His Lord said to him, ďWell done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.Ē

This is the principle of seeing a need and responding to it with what you have been given by the Lord.  Maybe itís time, maybe itís talent, maybe itís treasure, but if you blow off the need and leave it unmet, you have buried your talent. You have become poor towards God instead of rich.

There is eternal reward in being rich toward God!

What did Jesus mean when He told the rich man to go and sell his possessions and give it to the poor, He said to the rich man, if you do that you will have treasure in heaven.

And what did He mean when He said, ďIf anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward. ď

What is a little one if not helpless? Acts of kindness to the helpless are connected to heavenly reward!

Did you see the article in the paper about lost airline luggage over the holidays. Friend, we donít want the luggage we are sending ahead to get lost. So when we engage in acts of kindness toward the helpless we will ďcertainly not lose our luggage, our reward!Ē

In Phillipians 4, Paul is speaking about the financial generosity of the Phillipians and he says in v17, ďNot that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be accredited to your account.Ē (NKJ)

God keeps an account open for us in heaven, and every gift of time, talent, treasure given for His glory in the name of Jesus  is a deposit in that account.  But, you say,  isnít it wrong to be motivated by rewards? Only if you think your good work will get you into heaven.

If itís wrong to be motivated by rewards, ....why does Jesus mention it so often in Scripture. Itís His idea not ours! Alcorn says, ď Giving is a giant lever positioned on the fulcrum of this world, allowing us to move mountains in the next world. Because we give, eternity will be different. For others and for us.

Remember the Ray Boltz song, ďThank You.Ē It pictures us meeting people in heaven who explain to us how our obedient giving to the Lord changed their lives. Whether we were a Sunday School teacher, or put money in an offering envelope, or who knows....just giving a cup of cold water to someone in the name of Jesus.

Who can forget the movie, Itís a Wonderful Life? George Bailey stuck in a small town at a nickle and dime savings and loan. What a wasted life he thought he had until the angel Clarence showed him what life wouldíve been like for other people without his nickels and dimes.

As a Christian, do you ever find yourself wishing that the Lord would tarry a little longer just for your sake, just so you can make a little more money, play one more round of golf? Have one more family outing? If so you have a weak view of heaven, and you surely donít know our God.

Or as a Christian are you fearful of dying? Maybe youíve been storing a little bit too much treasure on earth. Maybe you ought to let go now of the things that really arenít yours in the first place, and start practicing being rich toward God..  

Think about this: If your treasure is on earth, if thatís where your heart is, that means the inevitability of judgement day or death is in reality taking you farther and farther away from that which you treasure. You canít take it with you! Your treasure is misplaced, your heart is misguided.

Donít you know that your heart will always follow what you treasure? Suppose you have a large amount of money invested in GM stock. You are going to be very interested in all of their dealings. You are going to check out their listing on the stock market every single day. But what will the closing price of GM stock matter on Judgement Day?

On the other hand, suppose you have been sending money to an Aids mission in Kenya, or to a church planting mission in India, or to the current relief effort underway in the wake of the tsunami?

Guess what? Your heart will follow your money. You will be in prayer for those people, you will have a desire to perhaps visit with them one day or work with them, because they are where your treasure is.  

People say, I wish I had more of a heart for missions.....then start sending them your treasure...your heart will follow!

Of course giving all of our money away isnít the answer either, we need to feed, clothe, house and transport our families, and plan responsibly for our retirement, but we are a very wealthy people, and perhaps itís time we started to look at what we are doing with our treasure.

This isnít a pitch to make you increase your financial giving to Living Word in the upcoming year.  It is a pitch though, to take an inventory of your heavenly luggage. What are you salting away for heaven?

Heb 11:24-26 GW  When Moses grew up, faith led him to refuse to be known as a son of Pharaoh's daughter. (He refused to compromise for the riches of this world)   (25)  He chose to suffer with God's people rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a little while. (He gave up an easy life and exchanged it for the affliction that went with following God)   (26)  He thought that being insulted for Christ would be better than having the treasures of Egypt. (Why?) He was looking ahead to his reward.

May each of our New Years resolutions take on this  eternal perspective this year. Purpose to be rich toward God as you lay your life before Him as a daily living sacrifice. Let Him have access to all of it...time, talent, and treasure! Every time you give in the name of Jesus, you are packing your bags with treasure that will not rust or be eaten by moths.

Letís pray:

Lord, help us to stop being consumed by the here and now, help us to learn to give up our paltry schemes of making it big, cause us to surrender more fully to Jesus our time, talent and treasure, Show us the folly of anything less, in Jesus name, Amen.