Kingdom Principle: Stewardship of resources yields joy in this world.
|Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15||Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16||1 Timothy 6:6-19||Luke 16:19-31|
YES – choose both. Why not have both a profit margin – where you are enjoying all the worldly riches the Lord has provided, as well as a prophet’s message that says be rich in good deeds, generous and willing to share with those in need. I have worked in not-for-profit organizations all my life. I have also had many jobs with for-profit industries. (Entertainment, education & sales) No “job” (where you receive financial compensation) will last without making a profit. The difference between the not-for-profit and the for-profit is who benefits from the profit. The same is true for your life… you need to have a profit margin in your personal life. But the benefits and the benefactor of the profit is the determining factor on how much joy it produces (eternal or limited)
In this season of After Pentecost or Ordinary Time – the focus in this year C has been heavy on financial matters. The crux of this message was captured on 7.20.13 knowing that Greed sucks the life out of you, and thanksgiving expresses your abundance. There we established that Thanksgiving and Generosity root out greed. Last week the focus was on the stewardship of relationships to yield eternal wealth – This was done living a life of Generosity – celebrating what you have, with others. This week the focus is on the stewardship of resources – accomplished living a life of Thanksgiving made possible by contentment – celebrating others, with what you have. So stewardship for the Kingdom is both celebrating with others as well as celebrating others. (relationships & resources)
The rich man was neither generous to nor thankful for Lazarus while on earth. God is generous to all… yet those who do not live a life of Thanksgiving and Generosity – miss it altogether and are left with bitterness and jealously when they finally realize what they missed. Jeremiah demonstrates the provision and peace of God to the earthly king through buying land that has no value in the current/impending threat of captivity and destruction of Judah. Many choose to be bitter when opportunity comes at bad timing… but Jeremiah moves in thanksgiving led by God to purchase the land.
The life you live on this earth is to be a foretaste of what you will enjoy for eternity. The veil is torn between Heaven & Earth – his angels are here and we pray His kingdom come. We are closer than you many realize to heaven. God’s desire is not for you to be miserable; rather it is for you to be saved from the Kingdom of darkness. (1 Tim 2:3-6, Colossians 1:13-14) Joy and contentment are the roots of thanksgiving in the midst of trials and troubles in life. (James 1:2, Romans 5:3-5, & Philippians 4:10-14) Further because of your salvation by faith, your life is to be filled with Good works. (James 2:14-24 , Romans 12:1-3, 9-21, Philippians 2:19-22, 25, 4:2-3) Therefore, in Jesus we have all we need to enter into that life of faith and fulfillment. For, it is not a sin to be rich, but it is the temptation to be rich which ensnares many people and a sin to pursue that desire for it will lead to ruin and destruction. How much more we are called to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness, for out of such things generosity and thanksgiving will flourish.
So what about the $$$ – Steward what you have generously and with thanksgiving. Lazarus died just like the rich man died– you too will die, so don’t fear or avoid death. Rather pursue life, the materials of this world are not eternal, but what you do with them is…. The Rich Man found himself in a place of torment seeking comfort and pity from Lazarus, whom all his earthly life he had not the slightest compassion toward – and now he is asking for the good deeds he never offered. Death and punishment has prompted the rich man to see the true value of money. (much like last week – the manager’s fear opened his eyes) Money has no value in the life to come – so the call is to figure out the value of money in this life. That value is two-fold; for those in need, AND for your enjoyment. (Anyone who quickly reads this and thinks – I have need – is missing the point that if you have Jesus – then – No, you don’t have any need – for all needs are met in Him. Thus we must discover what is true joy in this life if our hope is to increase the impact of money in both this life and the life to come.
The prophet message: Enjoy your money now and for eternity by investing in the lives of others.
The profit message: Enjoy your money now and ensure you always have enough, seeking more of it by whatever means possible.
The hardest part about the passages this week is to navigate the stories and learn the principles without getting lost in the unanswered questions: Is Hades the same place as Hell? Can people in Hell – watch/see people in Heaven? Is Abraham’s bosom/side Heaven? Does everyone have guardian angel’s assigned to them? If so then why do bad things happen? Where did Jeremiah get the money to buy the land? Why does Paul only say we need food and clothing – what about shelter and family? What is the command that Paul is call us to keep? You get the point – so the answers to those questions are not the point. God provides richly, everything for our enjoyment! Read that again – God provides richly for our enjoyment. So enjoy all that God has given you, focus on his presence, provision, peace and protection (all expressed in the Psalm) so that you make take hold of the life that is truly rich.