“The wealth of the rich is his fortified city; in his imagination it is like a high wall.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
I have done a fair bit of premarital counseling over the years. As I have, one of the things I have addressed with my couples every single time is finances and their thoughts on money. This is because financial pressures lie at the heart of a number of marital disagreements. One of the exercises I always do helps each partner reveal what for them is the meaning of money. With only one exception in 15 years, the answer has always been the same: Money is security. We live in a culture in which the vast majority of people view money as a source of security. While that is completely understandable, Solomon had something to say about it here to which we had probably give some attention. Let’s do that this morning as we continue our journey exploring how to get better at being rich.
*** If you’ve been tracking with me for very long on here, you know that I’ve written quite a lot over the years. As a matter of fact, this month will see my 1500th post. Each of those posts take up storage space on my site, and with the addition of pictures and audio recordings, they take up even more space. A couple of years ago, I upgraded the site for storage purposes, but I’m almost back to the new cap. In an effort to create some space without having to upgrade again quite yet (I don’t get enough traffic to justify that), I am going to begin going back through and deleting old audio files. I’ll start with the oldest and work forward from there. I’ll plan to keep at least a calendar year’s worth of audio files before deleting them. This means that if you go back to an old post, the audio link in it won’t work anymore. I could go through and remove all of those old links…but, honestly, that’ll take a lot more time than I have to give to it. The posts will still be there for reference, though, so still feel free to search the archives if you’re ever in need of some thoughts on a particular passage. I’ve covered quite a lot of the Scriptures over the years. Thank you, as always, for reading and sharing. You are why I keep writing every day. ***
“Keep your life free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for he himself has said, ‘I will never leave you or abandon you.’ Therefore, we may boldly say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?'” (CSB – Read the chapter)
In 1984, Madonna sang what was arguably the anthem for the times when she declared herself a material girl living in a material world. That wasn’t just an anthem for the time, then, though, it was a description of the struggle we have always had to define our lives by the stuff we have. Jesus dealt with this directly. So did Paul. If we are going to live under the authority of the new covenant, we only get to have one God and Lord. And money’s not it. Let’s talk this morning about why we can trust God in that position.
“No servant can serve two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Have you ever been a slave? Probably not. That being said, there are more people living as slaves around the world right now than at any other point in human history. Human trafficking is a multi-billion-dollar industry. How about this one: Do you have a master? Once again, your gut reaction to that question may be to say, “No,” but give this one just a little bit more thought. Just because you don’t have a human master (and, no, neither parents nor bosses at work count) doesn’t mean you don’t have any master at all. The truth is that we all have a master. What kind of master we have and how much freedom that master grants us is the real question. Let’s talk about it.
“Summoning his disciples, he said to them ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. For they all gave out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had – all she had to live on.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Have you ever received a gift that was truly a generous one? There’s just something about that experience that feels good. You feel honored. You may be a little ashamed or embarrassed by the generosity, but your gratitude is enormous. You immediately rate the character of the giver as high. On the other hand, have you ever received a gift you knew was not in the least bit generous? The feelings then are almost the exact opposite. You may take whatever it is, but you’re really not very grateful for it at all. The other person just did it because he had to or somehow felt obligated to do it. That’s not a gift you’re ever going to be very happy receiving. Well, as much as you feel that way, God does even more. This odd little closing episode from Mark 12 gives us a really powerful picture of this truth. Let’s take a look.
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were astonished at his words. Again Jesus said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
In February of 1848, a pair of German philosophers published a pamphlet in England at the behest of the Communist League. The pamphlet made a small splash at the time it was published, but it would go on to become one of the most consequential literary works of the last two hundred years. This was not because of its literary eloquence or artistry, but because it introduced some powerful ideas which were eventually bought into by some powerful people who attempted to put them into practice on a national scale. The world has never really recovered. The pamphlet, of course, was the Communist Manifesto, and the philosophers were Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Now, neither man cared a bit about the Christian faith, but they have had many ideological followers who do claim such a banner, and have tried again and again to reconcile the ideas of Marx and Engels with the ideas of Jesus. This passage is one of the most important of such efforts. Let’s see if we can’t get our hearts and minds around what Jesus was saying here this morning.