Message To The Rich, Part 2
Psalms 49:16-17 – Do not be overawed when a man grows rich, when the splendor of his house increases; for he will take nothing with him when he dies, his splendor will not descend with him.
Notice, it does not say, “He will ascend,” it says that he will descend. As in part one; money and wealth are very dangerous things when it comes to following Jesus.
Psalms 49:18 – Though while he lived he counted himself blessed—and men praise you when you prosper—
Money brings a deception with it. It feeds a delusion that a man thinks he is blessed of God and that somehow God favors him more than other men. And men praised you when you prosper… Rich men are appointed into leadership and positions of authority. Usually the elders and deacons are those who are successful in the world. We think that somehow they can be successful in running the church, too.
Psalms 49:19 – …he will join the generation of his fathers, who will never see the light of life.
This is very serious and not to be toyed with. A man does himself great harm by examining this whole issue and then walking away thinking he has money in its proper perspective or that somehow he is okay with God. Approaching money and wealth should cause one to buckle to his knees and pray.
Psalms 49:20 – A man who has riches without understanding is like the beasts that perish.
How can we be rich in understanding concerning money and wealth? Even with all of the books, tapes, seminars, and discussions in the church today about how to handle wealth, the message of the cross is sadly missing. I can’t think of a single instance where the message of the cross is taught in relationship to being rich in Jesus Christ. It is sad that the church wants to be rich, so it tolerates riches. It doesn’t have the same attitude as Jesus Christ about money. He viewed it to be detestable. So, what is the teaching of the message of the cross in relationship to money?
Isaiah 53:6 tells us about Jesus Christ and how he died for our sins by taking upon himself all of our iniquities, and how we can be forgiven.
Isaiah 53:6 – We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Men preach of this. We sing and talk about it. Men share it with others. We claim we are forgiven of our sins because Jesus Christ died for our sins.
Isaiah 53:7 – He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
We talk of his death, the whippings, and beatings, and how he bled for our sins.
Isaiah 53:8 – By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.
We talk of the illegal trial he went through, how he was deprived of justice, and that the world did not treat him in a proper way. And who can speak of his descendants? We talk of his death, leaving no family, or history and how he gave up his life. For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. We talk about him being stricken for sins and us being healed and forgiven because he died for us. In verse 9, we read about his death, how and where he was buried, and how God views what took place.
Isaiah 53:9 – He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked. That part is fine, but we don’t know the next part. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death. Not only was Jesus stricken for our sins, deprived of justice, put into a tomb that was reserved for the wicked, but indeed—to heap indignities upon indignities—he was buried with the rich. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence… He did nothing wrong to be buried with the wicked or with the rich. Though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. This is his lot—to be buried with the wicked and the rich. When Jesus Christ says that a man must hate and despise money, he is dead serious. When Jesus Christ says that we can serve only one or the other, he means exactly what he says. God never had riches in mind when he created the world. We were to be content with our daily food. The world was to be ours, but not claiming the world to be ours. Riches came about because man wanted to claim something for himself. So the desire for riches—the glorying in riches; the viewing of riches being something noble and good—shows how darkened man has become. We were supposed to be a world that shared everything we had.
I’ve never seen this next passage lived out among the rich. Seldom do we hear the church ever preach about this message because they want their riches. They want their tools, power, and prestige. The message of the cross is not preached because we do not view riches as we should—that we do not need them. I am told almost weekly that we need to have money to survive in this world, and I refute that argument over and over again. In the Book of James he wrote:
James 5:1 – Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you.
The rich people need to listen and pay attentionand we need to pay attention, too. This is not a message that says we hate people because they are rich. None of that! We need to view riches for what they really are. Now listen, you rich people: weep and wail… I have yet to see a rich man weep and wail. I have yet to see him in misery and weeping before God because of his lot in life. Weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. There is no seriousness concerning money and how it should be used for God’s glory or for his kingdom. They play with it, and have committees about it. They toy around with giving in the Lord, but they don’t weep and wail, and then give and serve with an open hand. They have a controlled giving; they look at each coin that comes out of their hands. But, James tells the rich to weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you.
James 5:2 – Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.
Everything you have will be destroyed. It will rust away, corrode, and be gone. It will not descend with you when you go to Hades.
James 5:3 – Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.
The reason they will testify against you is because you didn’t use it for anything else but to please yourself. You have this vast reserve of money, power, and resourcesand maybe you gave a portion out of your wealth to meet a few needsto ease your consciencebut it wasn’t from the message of the cross. You eased your own heart. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. Every time a rich man becomes richer and uses it for his own benefit, he will someday descend into Hades where the money will eat his flesh by fire. It will testify against him for all eternity saying, “You could have used me wisely. You could have glorified God’s name. You could have used it to love other people, but instead you used it for yourself.” You have hoarded wealth in the last days. You managed it and had it in its proper place. You had everything where it needed to be. You hoarded, accumulated, and kept it to yourself. You knew how to manage it well, but not according to the cross of Jesus Christ. Weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you.
James 5:4 – Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.
There are those who work in God’s harvest field. There are those who labor for God under great hardship because their needs are not met. Yet, the rich will walk along saying, “Well, I pay my people what is a fair market value.” Such things are the total opposite of the heart of Jesus Christ and what God has in mind about his abundant grace. If God paid us each day what we were worth, we would not be entitled to one scrap of food to eat.
James 5:5 – You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.
I don’t care what he gives. I don’t care if he tells you that he gives $100,000.00 away a year, you look at his life. Does he live in luxury? Does he live in self-indulgence? Is his every need met? Or, is there ever a time when he is in need? Does he feels the pain of his brothers and sisters because he himself is under the pains of the cross doing the work in his own life? You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. The message of the cross concerning money is that we hate and despise it, or we worship, obey, and follow it.
In Luke 6:24 Jesus is very, very clear. The message of the cross is uncomfortable. When somebody says they are looking for a church where they can feel comfortable, you know that is where they will find a false gospel. The message of the cross is never comfortable. A rich man who picks up his cross will have an uncomfortable life, and a rich man who has a comfortable life is not picking up the cross. That is why Jesus says:
Luke 6:24 – But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.
You have your ease and everything is in its place. You have the fine cars and homes. You don’t give up your life for somebody else. You don’t have real energy, prayer, wrestling, and fighting. You give from a position of comfort, ease, and rest.
Luke 6:25 – Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.
You will be hungry for eternity. Those who pick up the cross in this world do not have too many occasions for laughter. They must work and weep. They must do all of the things that the cross demands. But, woe to those who are rich and well fed, who eat at the finest restaurants, that hang with the finest people who have their little parties and get-togethers, who waste time while people perish.
Jeremiah 2:34 – On your clothes men find the lifeblood of the innocent poor, though you did not catch them breaking in.
James 5:6 – You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.
The rich will say, “We didn’t condemn. We didn’t put innocent people to death.” Yet, Jeremiah 2:34 says: On your clothes men find the lifeblood of the innocent poor, though you did not catch them breaking in. Oh, you didn’t climb into the windows or break through the door to steal from the poor. What you did was through your inconsideration, your lack of empathy, and understanding. In your comfort and ease you ignored the needs that God brought into your life. It says:
Jeremiah 2:34-35 – … Yet in spite of all this you say, “I am innocent; he is not angry with me.” But I will pass judgment on you because you say, “I have not sinned.”
The rich need to wake up to how they have sinned and how insensitive they are to the needs of Jesus Christ and what he brings into their lives. They condemned and murdered innocent people simply because they do not have a heart of love that can see the needs around them. They live a life of ease and comfort when it comes to giving and meeting the needs of Jesus.
I have never heard a rich man say that he was in sin concerning money. I have yet to be in a conversation with a rich man who says he needs to change or understands the message of the cross in relation to his money. They give, serve, pray, and go to church, and men count them blessed and spiritual, but there are no real fruits. They love to talk about Jesus Christ and religious things. I have met many men who claim to be a Christian and say they have a real sense of God and spiritualitythey love to talk, but there is no fruit or action.
Mark 4:18 – Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word;
Money is a thorn that will come in and choke out the word of God making it unfruitful.
Mark 4:19 – …but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.
Most of us can relate to that. Money lies. Money makes a man think he is not greedy. I’ve never met a rich man who would admit to his greed. I talk to some on the phone who sometimes say, “I’m not really rich,” because there is always somebody who has more money than they. Money deceives a man regarding his relationship with God and everything that has to do with life. It deceives him about his relationship with man. But the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. The word is not able to put forth life, but they deceive themselves by talking about it. They deceive themselves when talking about money and how it should be used and how God would be glorified, etc. They serve on their nice little religious committees, but there is no real fruit that comes from the cross.
Let me give you one testjust one! Let’s take this one aspect of the word of God and apply it to a man who is rich. What is it that the rich do most of the time? They get together with other rich folks and talk about money. They spend most of their time going to parties, gathering around with one another, and discussing money. You don’t really find the rich hanging around with the poor, do you? This is only one test out of many scriptures that we could look at:
Luke 14:12 – Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid.”
This is a direct commandyou cannot spiritualize it away. Jesus Christ said to his host that when you give a luncheon, a dinner, or get together for cake and coffee, this is what you are to do: Do not invite your friends. Show me one rich man who lives this commandment. Where is a man who lives in a fine house, in a fine community and says, “Today we’ll give a luncheon, but we won’t invite any of our friends.”? They would probably want him out of the neighborhood when other people who didn’t look like they were rich began to show up. “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors.” We have a direct commandment from Jesus Christ telling us not to invite rich people to our home. Do not invite those people who can repay you, who can give you anything in return for your giving, whether it is prestige, discussion, people that you have things in common with, or the friendship that you normally call friendship. Rich people are to invite those who cannot repay them. Now I ask you, do you know anybody who has lived this one passage? “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do…” If you do break this commandment they may invite you back and so you will be repaid and you will have no reward in heaven. So, when they serve on church committees, or go to their big social clubs and they talk about Jesus Christ and somebody pays them back, they have no reward when they stand before God. They have already been paid back in full.
Luke 14:13 – But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind…
When was the last time you saw this lived out, talked about, or even done?
Luke 14:14 – …and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.
I’ll say it again… This is just one scripture in relationship to money and the cross.
Many books are about financial success or there are lots of tape series that talk about having money and how to invest it properly. There are even radio shows where people call in to buy gold in the name of Jesus. There are all kinds of ways to budget your money, but the message of the cross is missing.
Mark 10:17 – As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
This man looked eagerly for Jesus Christ. There were a lot of rich people who came to Jesus Christ, to talk about him, to look in the Scriptures, and to examine. They ran up to Jesus Christ and fell on their knees. They came in humility and to be taught. They came with a heart that looked like it was hungry for God. If we were to look at this man, we would think that he was hungry for God, wouldn’t we? And the church would be glad to receive a rich man like that. We would love for a rich man to come into the church saying, “I want to join,” and fall down and say, “Oh, this is a spiritual place and I really want to learn.” We would be eager to bring him in because he would have money. He ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” The man came in confidence. Money had created a wall of protection for him. Money had produced within him a delusion about his standing before God, as Scripture declares. He thought that Jesus would say, “You’re fine! There is nothing else you need to do.” There are plenty of rich people who give, serve, and stand before you and ask, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” They think they are fine, complete, and blessed of God. They do not know the message of the cross that this man would learn.
Mark 10:18- “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is goodexcept God alone.”
Jesus struck at the man’s pride. The rich man turned to Jesus Christ and said, “You’re good.” Then Jesus Christ said, “I am not good, only God is good.” So what does that say about the rich man, who he is and what is in his heart? You see, a rich man can act. He has power and can control things. Satan comes along and whispers in his ears and says, “Oh, you are blessed!” Men tell him he is blessed and that he is in a fine standing before God. Yet, Jesus Christ said that it is only God who is good. Let’s read on:
Mark 10:19 – You know the commandments: “Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.”
Jesus Christ set him up in a loving way to show him his heart. He laid out all of the commandments knowing that the man would say, “Oh, I live those things! I worship and love God. I’ve run here to meet you. I fell down before you.”
Mark 10:20 – “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
His money produced within him a pride that brought a delusion, but Jesus Christ dealt with his heart. He knew what was about to befall this manthat his whole world would be pulled out from underneath him. This man would be completely devastated about his relationship with God and who he was because of the message of the cross.
Mark 10:21 – Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
He lacked only one thing. He kept all of the other commandments, but there was one single thing that he missed that would have allowed him to have eternal life. Let us not be fooled by any man’s riches. He might do all sorts of things and be a church-goer. He might have never broken a single commandment. But, unless he knows how to hate and despise money, he serves it. Jesus said, “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” A man who has not given up everything cannot begin to follow Jesus Christ. A man who has not gone in before God and said, “God, I give you everything here to be used for your glory” is not a true follower. David lived his whole life to leave things for God’s temple and work. That should be rich man’s goal. If God brought riches into his life it is so that he might spend it for the needs of Jesus Christ in every form and fashion. If he doesn’t spend here, it is for the ultimate goal to be able to give it away for God’s needs. “…give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Then you can begin to talk about the crucified life. Then you can talk about being a disciple of Jesus Christ or being a Christian, but not before. You might have the law down and look good to some men, but you are not following Jesus Christ.
Mark 10:22 – At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
His whole life was devastated because he came face to face with the message of the cross. He stood before Jesus Christ, who had nothing. He realized that Jesus Christ was saying that he had to become poor like Jesus. Everyone in the world wants to be like the rich man. The church wants to be rich like the rich man. But, Jesus Christ stands there in his poverty with the message of the cross and says that you must become like him. You make yourself poor. You pour yourself out for those who are poor and you meet every single need that is in Jesus. It says: He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Mark 10:23- Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
Let us not hold back the message of the cross because we might make a man sad. Don’t water down the message of the cross, but rise up and let it be known that the rich man went away. He didn’t go away to give any money as far as we know. Jesus Christ, because of his stand concerning money lost a disciple. Most of us would have made this a little smoother or a little easier. We would tell the rich man, “Well, you need to be willing to give. You need to tithe.” But, Jesus Christ went to his heart first. Jesus went for his whole religious lifehe revealed the rich man for who he was. He took his pride and shattered it. He stripped him of his money and then talked about the Christian life. Jesus Christ didn’t say, “Okay, we’ll build on this. We’ll work at this so that by the end of your life you will have given up everything.” Jesus Christ started from the position that he must give up everything before he could begin to follow him. This is the message of the cross that we are to live, what we are to show by our own lives, and demonstrate to all menespecially those who are richthat we first start by giving up everything and then go from there. If they walk away with their face downif they walk away sad, then so be it. We won’t change the gospel for any man.
Again, the rich lets needs pass them by. Jesus Christ brings his needs before them and they can’t see it because they are too blind. Money controls, influences, and pulls them in a certain direction. Many years ago, we needed to buy a copier. I went in to sign for the copier and I asked the gentleman who was selling it to me, “Is this contract for a purchase?” He told me it was. But, I felt in the Lord that we were supposed to sign it and I didn’t know I was being lied to at the time. I just knew that was what God wanted me to do. I didn’t look at the money. I didn’t check all of the fine lines of the contract. I just knew that God said to sign. So, I signed the contract, and then I found out a couple of months later that we had been thoroughly and completely ripped off. We weren’t buying it. We were just leasing it. At the end of the term, after we had paid everything off, it would still be their copier. So, we called the man to account. I said, “Hey, we need to talk,” but he wouldn’t come talk. We all knew why he wouldn’t come talk. So, we wrote the national headquarters and went through the hoops, but they kept putting us off. Finally, we put enough pressure on them that he had to come before the church committee to explain this situation. They basically told him that he had better get this taken care of. So, when the man came in, we had all of the contracts and everything was laid out. He knew what he had done and he just sat there. He went through the debates and tried to justify himself but we shot down all of his arguments. Finally at the end of it all, he turned to us and asked, “Well, what do you want me to do?” The whole committee became silent and we just sat there for a couple of minutes. Then I turned to him and said, “We want you to repent and become a Christian.” At that, his face dropped. That man stayed until about 11:00 or 11:30 that night, and when he reported to all of the other salesmen, he said, “They wanted to convert me.” He was awestruck by it. We never did get the contract changed or any money back, but we got to preach the gospel. How many needs are missed because people are too worried about getting their fair share or using money properly? They miss all of the opportunities that Jesus Christ brings their way.
Luke 16:8 – The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.
Jesus Christ said something about those who claim to be Christians and have money. For the people of this world… Bill Gates is smarter than the average Christian with money. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. Those who claim to be Christians and have money are more stupid than the rest of the world who are rich. Rich Christians have a subtle self-righteousness that says, “If God wants you to have it, he will provide for it.” But, he doesn’t realize that God has chosen him as the vehicle to provide for those needs in Jesus Christ. So, he smugly sits back as all of the money comes in and he said, “Well, if God wants you to have that, he will provide it.” Not shrewd at all! Not planning ahead! For those who are so concerned about investments, and planning for the future of retirement in heaven, the rich seem to not have any wisdom at all.
Luke 16:9 – I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
He didn’t say, “If it is gone,” or “If it disappears,” but “when it is gone…” when you are at the last penny, when there is nothing left, when all you have is a dime… “use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves.” Be out giving, serving, laboring, and laying down your life. Use what little bit you have. If all you have is ten dollars, then look at that ten dollars and ask, “How can I win a friend for that ten dollars? How can I give? How can I serve? How can I use it to lay down my life in order to win somebody to be a friend in Jesus Christ?” The people of the world are wiser about giving away their coupons in order to gain friends. The world will give you discounts in order to gain friends. The world knows how to influence its people, and how to give and serve those who will benefit them. They are wise about itbut not the people of the light. We who have an unlimited supply to be able to give should not be greedy or concerned about tomorrow. I tell you to use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves so that when it is gone you’ll be welcomed into eternal dwellings. We are to live such a life of giving that the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. When you come into heaven there will be people there and circumstances that come up, and you’ll say, “Oh, did I meet some needs there? I don’t even remember!”
Luke 16:10 – Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.
Those of you that say, “Oh, if I had more I would give more,” look and see what you do with the little bit that you have. If you are not faithful in giving with the ten dollars that you have—if you are not willing to go all the way down to poverty so that you don’t have anything for the next day, why should God give you a hundred dollars? God is looking for those who are able to live a life of faith. Those whoday in and day outare at the risk of complete poverty, and they depend each day for God’s daily needs and provisions to be able to give here and there, and then he will give more and more if it needs to be done. Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much… What do you do with five dollars?
Luke 16:11 – So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?
If you want to hear God’s voice, see how much you hate and despise money today. Don’t complain that you don’t have enough faith to hear from God. Look at how you handle worldly wealth—your car, your home, and your time.
God has in mind an exchange of love. We see this happen a lot within the body. There will be times when I have an abundance and somebody else is in need. Then, there will be times when I am in need and they have an abundance. The goal that God sets down is that we might have an opportunity to share with one another. Suppose everybody in this body had everything they needed at all times. We’d never have an opportunity to give to each other!
2 Corinthians 8:13 – Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality.
That is, the reason God gives the rich man millions is so that he might be able to give it away that there might be equality within the church.
2 Corinthians 8:14 – At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality,
God allows for the opportunity to show love to other men. He gives you that chance. When you go to lunch with somebody and they don’t have enough money and they cannot repay you, that is the opportunity God has given if you have the money in order to meet their needs so that there might be equality within the body. Then you might be able to share a relationship. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality…
2 Corinthians 8:15 – …as it is written: “He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.”
You see, a rich man thinks he earns what he has. He thinks that it was by his hard labor, his selling, buying, his trading, scheming, and planning that he gained the money therefore, he deserves it. He thinks that the poor man doesn’t have it because he doesn’t work hard enough! So, the rich man justifies why he doesn’t give by saying to himself, “Well, if the poor man wants to be rich all he needs to do is go out and work for it like I did.” He forgets that God makes certain men poor and certain men rich so there might be equality within our hearts. The poor man, if it is allotted to him to be poor; no matter how he hard he worked, how he would invest, or what he would doif he used all of the intellect he had, he would never become rich because God has not set that into motion for his life. Even if some people set out to be poor, they could never become poor. God makes the rich man and he makes the poor man. He does this so there might be love within the body.
The only reason I own anything is so that I might be able to give. The only reason a rich man is given riches is so he might be able to give. It is not for his comfort, his luxury, or his lifestyle. It is not for himself. It is for the sake of others. You would think that those who have the most should be the richest in terms of giving to other people and having an abundance of friends, but that’s not true.
2 Corinthians 8:9 – For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
Every millionaireevery man who is rich should have a goal to become poor. He should plead before God that when he dies he would want to die in poverty. “…so that you, through his poverty, might become rich and here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give, but also to have the desire to do so.” This is what needs to be told to a rich man.
2 Corinthians 8:11 – Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.
“Now finish the work!” It is not enough to talk about giving and having money in its proper place. Go out, finish the work, and make yourself poor. Find me a rich man who will lay down in his bed at night having made himself poorer than he was the day before, then we might be able to talk about that man being a Christian. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. The goal here isn’t to make the rich man under poverty, to make him hard-pressed, but to know the joy of the message of the cross, of laying down one’s life for another man. Let there be some people who finish the work.
Let’s talk about true riches for just a moment. We have already seen that the rich man should boast of his low position. What we need are some poor people who are rich in faith to lead the churchfor they understand the true value of money.
Isaiah 33:5-6 – The LORD is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness. He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure.
A rich man who claims to be a Christianbeing rich in wisdom, knowledge, and understanding about the salvation of Godshould know how to win and make friends for Jesus Christ, lay down his life with true nobility and humility in Jesus Christ in order to glorify God. He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure. Rich men need to weep and wail because they are afraid of the money they have in their bank account. They need to become terrified of the money they have. We need to do the same ourselves, but this is a message to the rich today. They need to become deathly afraid. They need to sit down with checkbooks, savings accounts, investments, and everything before them on their knees at a prayer bench, terrified of what is before them. They need to be afraid, and then they might be given true wisdom and knowledge about how to handle money in Jesus. They must live in tents again as Abraham did, not attached to this world in fine homes and cars. As we said before, one of the things that money brings is power to act and do things. This is why a rich man needs the restraint of the cross and fellowship with poor people. Poor people cannot act on doing anything unless God provides the means and opens the door, even if they felt something was God’s will. Whatever a rich man feels is God’s will at the moment can act and complete the work without much thought, wisdom, or fear and trembling. There is the great danger that he will do something that is not God’s will, but he will think it is God’s will because he has the power to act.
Hosea 12:6 – But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.
You must maintain the giving of everything and surrendering all. You must maintain justice and true equality by looking at the poor as God sees the poor. And wait for your God always. The rich man must learn to wait upon God before he acts upon anything. He must have the restraint of the cross.
Hosea 12:7 – The merchant uses dishonest scales; he loves to defraud.
Look at what God said! In verse 6, he talks about waiting for God, and then verse 7, he talks about scales and money. The rich man uses dishonest scales. He looks at himself with a far more favorable light concerning the message of the cross. He has a scale that is different for him versus somebody who is poor. The merchant uses dishonest scales; he loves to defraud.
Hosea 12:8 – Ephraim boasts, “I am very rich; I have become wealthy. With all my wealth they will not find in me any iniquity or sin.”
What does Ephraim boast? What is the source of their problem? Why is it they can’t wait upon the Lord? Verse 8 tells us why. Ephraim said, “I am very rich.” Think about what happens when you have a lot of moneywhen you get a little windfall. You are antsy as all get-out! The way we say it at our house is “Money is burning a hole in your pocket.” You want to act. You want to spend. You want to go do—even for God’s glory if there is a pocket of money that you want to put into action, you want to move forward with it. You have to learn to wait upon the Lord to crucify the flesh that would act. Ephraim boasts, “I am very rich; I have become wealthy. With all my wealth they will not find in me any iniquity or sin.” Again, it is the delusion of money. Rich people need to come out of their neighborhoodsat least those who claim to be Christiansand hang around on the poorest side of town with the poor people of church who are looking to find sin in their life. You don’t hang around other people who have the same problem in order to get well. You find a doctor. You find someone with knowledge.
Hosea 12:9 – I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt; I will make you live in tents again, as in the days of your appointed feasts.
This comes across as discipline, but it is not meant to be discipline. Did Abraham consider it discipline to move around in tents? Did the people of God consider it torture to go to the appointed feasts? But, those who are rich would consider it poverty to be out there walking around in tents and eating at God’s feasts instead of enjoying the things of Egypt.
Hebrews 11:9 – By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.
The rich people must become unsettled in this world, not to able to fit in anymore. They must discover the message of the cross that will separate them from the world so that they are no longer comfortable with the money they use. They must embrace a Christianity that will make their lives very uncomfortable, as uncomfortable as the rest of us. They must discover what true riches are. They must begin to live like Abraham did, in tents, moving around, meeting the needs of God, and glorifying God that way—never attached to this world ever again.
The rich must come to sing the song of Mary. I must come to truly glorify God from a position of humility. It says:
Luke 1:46 – And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord”
She sang before the Lord.
Luke 1:47 – and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
They must find their joy to be in the living God onlythey must become separate from the world, its wealth, and its deception.
Luke 1:48-51 – for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
Mary sang about the inward thinking of a man. When you sit down with a rich man, he will come across with humility and say that he is dependent upon God. But, God knows what is in the inmost heart of a man and he sees what a man’s life produces. Now, do the two match up?
Luke 1:52-53 – He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.
She gloried in this! Why do we not glory in it anymore? Is it because money is too close to our own hearts? Is it because we secretly desire to be rich like the world? Look at what she sings about. Do you hear hymns about this in the church? Do you hear people singing and leading worship saying that God sends away the rich; poor, hungry, and empty-handed? It is because we have come to value money ourselves and we know not how to hate and despise it. He has filled the hungry with good things… He has taken those who are poor and he will give them true riches. He will speak to them, fellowship with them, and give them fellowship. But, those who are rich and think they have it allhe will send away empty. He has helped his servant Israel remember to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever. He helps those who dwell in tents, and on the move to meet the needs of God. Those who are willing to be obedient in all thingsthose who lift up their family unto the Lord, who are not comfortable, and who leave Egypthe will bless and fellowship with. The rich need to weep and wail.
We need to get the heart of the cross so that we see everything as God does.
Psalms 73:1 – A psalm of Asaph. Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.
To those who see things as they really are.
Psalms 73:2 – But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.
The psalmist speaks about himself and the attitude he had. My feet had almost slipped… I almost slipped from my secure position in God. I had nearly lost my foothold, he says in verse 2. I was standing firm in God and I almost slipped. It was almost pulled out from under me. In verse 3, this is why he almost slipped;
Psalms 73:3 – For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
When he saw their money and how they were blessed, then as he looked at his own lot, he began to wonder, “What is God all about and what kind of God is it that I worship that lets me fall under judgment?”
Psalms 73:4 – They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong.
They eat the best of the lamb. They find the best medical care. They have the most comfortable things at their disposal. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. That is why those who claim to be Christians, but are rich, need to find a cross. They need to become uncomfortable. They need to lay down their lives and meet the needs of Jesus Christ.
Psalms 73:5 – They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills.
Do you wonder why rich men live as long as they do?
Psalms 73:6-7 – Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. From their callous hearts comes iniquity; the evil conceits of their minds know no limits.
They are hard to the needs of Jesus Christ; otherwise they would not continue to be millionaires, would they? I guarantee, if any man would look at his bank account he would wonder if he had enough money to meet the needs of Jesus Christ. If a rich man continues to be rich, then he is not appropriately meeting the needs of Jesus Christ. For there are far more needs than there is money to meet those needs. What does it say about these people?
Psalms 73:8-9 – They scoff, and speak with malice; in their arrogance they threaten oppression. Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth.
They claim to be Christians. They claim to be believers. They do powerful things; they can act, and ignore other’s needs. They can tell you to go back into the prayer closet and seek the things that God would want to work in your life. The rich will tell you that you can find those needs met by God, not by him. They speak from a calloused heart. Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. They are Christians, and yet they walk mighty in the world, wheel and deal.
Psalms 73:10 – Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance.
They are seen as spiritual. Without the message of the cross you’ll never see through a rich man. Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance. One of the problems of being rich is that people always come to you with their needs all of the time. They never leave you alone. Be that as it may, that man should use that opportunity to present the message of the cross to everybody that comes to his door whether he gives them money or not. Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance.
Psalms 73:11-12 – They say, “How can God know? Does the Most High have knowledge?” This is what the wicked are like—always carefree, they increase in wealth.
Now, if you want to examine what the wicked are like, it says they are always carefree and they increase in wealth. If you want to discover who the wicked are, then look for a man who is always increasing in wealth and whose life is carefree. Look, if God gives you an abundance of money it is to enable you to do more work than you did before, not to make your life more carefree than it was before. If some of us are unfortunate enough to become millionaires, then see it so that you work harder at meeting the needs of Jesus Christ rather than live a life of carefree independence.
Psalms 73:13 – Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence.
You see, they claim to hold on to heaven, but he is saying, “I wrestle with sin every day. I struggle to keep myself pure, but for what? It is in vain. I get nothing from it. God doesn’t seem to meet my needs. He leaves me in my poverty. He just gives me more of the cross.” He became frustrated. Remember, this man had almost slipped. He almost bought into the lies that the rich have when they say, “Oh, God has really blessed me.” But, when he looked at his own life, what he experienced, and what God gave him, it was a tougher hand than this man who claimed heaven. Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence. He said, “I dealt with the purification of my heart. I tried to keep my hands from sin. And, it was all in vain. It was for nothing. God doesn’t seem to reward.”
Psalms 73:14 – All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning.
Do you understand what God does? You say, “God, I want to be your child,” and so every day that you get up, God says, “I will punish and discipline you. I will make you a disciple, teach you what the cross is, and make you ready.” But, to the rich man he says, “Have some more riches.” This man almost slipped. He almost misunderstood what the cross was about. I have been punished every morning. Hebrews tells us to strengthen our weak knees and our feeble arms and to quit our whining and complaining. You tell God that you want to go to heaven and you want to be with him forever, then he will discipline and purify you so that you can share in his holiness.
Psalms 73:15 – If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed your children.
If he had gone around whining, complaining, moaning, and groaning—if he had declared all of these thingshe would have betrayed the children of God. He would have discouraged them. How many Christians are sitting in church today, discouraged, because they are seeing the rich exalted instead of put in their proper place? If the church wants a proper perspective on money, then put the rich in their proper place.
Psalms 73:16-17 – When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.
…Until I got myself alone with God – … until I sat down before the living God and said, “Okay, God, let’s talk about this. Explain all of this to me. Over here we have the rich. They are exalted and seem to be the leaders in the church. Everybody looks up to them. Yet here I am. I say that I want you and I’m trying to wash my hands and keep my heart clean, and then all you do is judge me more and more. You’re just not very patient with me, God, but you seem to be always blessing this man over here.” … till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.
Psalms 73:18-20 – Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! As a dream when one awakes, so when you arise, O Lord, you will despise them as fantasies.
If God has no interest in saving a man’s soul he will give him more and more money. If a man will not repent before God and wants to spend eternity without God, then just give him what he wants.
Psalms 73:21-22 – When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.
Get a clear perspective on money and understand that when you see a man blessed and you are under judgment, don’t become a brute beast before the Lord. Don’t whine and complain. Don’t say, “How come he has it easier?” Don’t be a fool before the living God.
Psalms 73:23 – Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.
He finally turned to true riches, didn’t he? And though we might live in holes in the ground or in caves, and we might be naked and poor, God is always with me and holds me by my right hand.
Psalms 73:24 – You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.
I have all that I want. It finally dawned on him! You will talk to me, and you will counsel me. When it is all said and done, you will lead me into glory, but you place the rich on slippery grounds. You will cast them down with sudden terror. They might die in their beds in their sleep, but they will be cast suddenly into terror.
Psalms 73:25 – Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
I love that part. “There is nothing in this world I desire but you.” I don’t have it in its proper place. I don’t have it second or third. I only have a desire for you.
Psalms 73:26 – My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
The flesh of the rich may always be soft and alive. It may always be healthy. My heart and my flesh may fail, but I have you. They might be able to worship you from their fine chairs and their soft pews, but I have you when my flesh can’t worship and when my heart is failing.
Psalms 73:27 – Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
When a rich man receives another dollar, or makes another investment, and is not faithful with that dollar, he will perish before the living God.
Psalms 73:28 – But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.
Where do you find this man’s joy? He entered the sanctuary again. He was out in the world and saw the rich man, their pleasures, and all of the things they were able to do. He saw the fun they were able to have, and he began to become envious. But then he went into the sanctuary and shut out the world. He got away from all of those things. What did he say? “Oh, God, you are my God and you are my portion. You are all that I desire.” But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds. Never envy a rich man! Never long for what he has. And, don’t curse a rich man, either.
Ecclesiastes 10:20 – Do not revile the king even in your thoughts, or curse the rich in your bedroom, because a bird of the air may carry your words, and a bird on the wing may report what you say.
You keep yourself humble and quiet. Jesus looked at the rich man and loved him. Everything I am saying today has to do with love. I’m speaking of the greatest concerns. This is not like the world that is jealous of the rich. It is that the rich must one day stand before God. They will be incomplete unless they learn to hate and despise money. Let us pray Proverbs 30:7, and let us teach rich men to pray the same thing. This is really a demand rather than a prayer.
Proverbs 30:7 – Two things I ask of you, O LORD; do not refuse me before I die:
He said, “Give me these things.” Of all the things he could ask for, what does he pray? What does the rich man need to pray who claims to be a Christian? He needs to pray:
Proverbs 30:8 – Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.
Wealth is deceitful. It is a lie! To hold a dollar in your hand is to hold a lie. To hold a large inheritance in your hand, or have a large bank account, is to look at a lie—something that will lie at you and cause you to live a lie. He said: Keep falsehood and lies far from me…What is the very next thing he asked? Give me neither poverty nor riches… This man prays and says, “Do not make me poor. Do not give me poverty. But, do not make me a rich man, either.” But give me only my daily bread. What is your definition of poverty? Is your definition of poverty just daily bread? If that is all you went home to today, if you didn’t have food for tomorrow, would you consider yourself poor? You know you would. He doesn’t consider that poverty. He considers that answered prayers. If he went home that day and there was no food for that day, he would consider that poverty. Paul said that if we have food and clothing, we should be content with that. Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Let us pray this and teach all men to pray this. Let us plead with rich people to discover the power of that prayer.
Proverbs 30:9 – Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, “Who is the LORD?” Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.
He prayed this prayer because he was concerned about the glory of God, not anything to do with his own life and comfort. He was not selfishly praying to give him daily food because he wanted daily food. He said, “I just don’t want more because I know how deceitful wealth is and it could lead to me live in such a way that I don’t need God.” You know, there are a lot of rich people who claim to be Christians who acknowledge that they need God, but they live their lives as if they don’t need him.
This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional.