My dad had a lot of wisdom. I remember how often I wanted to call him up or sit down with him and ask him advice. After he died there were countless times that I had decisions to make where I said to myself, “Oh I need to call.…” suddenly realizing that I couldn’t call my dad. One of the wisest things I remember him saying dealt with our family finances. I forget whether he was talking to me or someone else when he noted that if he had wanted to cut corners he could have been very wealthy, but his integrity was too important for that.
He might have difficulty in a world that seems to be so focused on the bottom line that the motto seems to be “whatever you do, win, but don’t get caught.” Of course, it’s easy to pick on today’s world as that kind of world without realizing that the desire to cut corners and succeed is one that has plagued mankind ever since Cain killed Abel hoping that he would then gain God’s approval. As Jesus was preparing for His final stage of life, the journey to Jerusalem and the cross, He told the disciples of His destination and left them with this reminder: “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?” (Luke 9:25)
It seems that the attitude which was prevalent then and is making a roaring comeback today is that the more material things you have, the more God loves you. Jesus fought that attitude in many of His stories, especially one that would come later about Lazarus and the rich man. He turned that story around from a popular teaching. He turns the idea of wealth accumulation around by letting His disciples understand that wealth, in and of itself, is not a sign of God’s blessings because some have become so enamored of wealth that they have lost their relationship with their own selves as well as God.
That teaching is not one of the more popular ones in churches today. We want to hear that God is going to bless us real good. We want to hear that we were created to have wealth. Wealth itself is not bad, of course, but wealth gained in such a way that we lose our integrity will draw us away from God. We all want a little bit more, and perhaps in searching for that little bit more, we cut a few corners. Perhaps today we need to move away from our accumulation of wealth and find a way to give some of it back to God. Support a charity. Help someone in need. Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell all that he had and give to the poor. If He called on you to do that, could you? Would you? I don’t believe that’s a call for all but I do believe that finding a way to give to help others is more in God’s plan than putting a lot more money in the bank is.
Lord, I want so much and yet I know that if I make gaining wealth my goal, I forget about those around me in need. Open my eyes. Let me see the need. Don’t let me lose myself in gaining wealth; let me find myself in caring for Your people.