Message Supplement for Sunday 29 September 2019: “Money Lovin’ “

Today God inspires us through Paul’s message in 1Timothy and Jesus’ teaching in Luke 16: 19-31.

Paul warns against the relentless pursuit of riches by stating that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains” (1 Timothy 6:10). To counteract this wealth-sickness, Paul encourages spiritual richness, which is perceiving eternal life in heaven as the true wealth. Paul also admonishes rich people to be cautious and humble, to “store up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future . . . ” (1 Timothy 6:19).

The message against toxic wealth is a key biblical theme, crucial to spiritual health. Jesus spoke profusely about greed among the many sins he decried.  Extreme greed that rises to the level of avarice magnifies corruption among those who already abuse their power, authority and privilege. But caution is due. Demonizing the wealthy or privileged must not involve class warfare. The basis for criticizing the love of money needn’t be driven by envy or hate. Avoid condemning someone simply because they have more of something than you do.

In Luke 16:19-31, Jesus gives a parable about a rich man who lived splendidly. The other chief character in the story, Lazarus, was a sore-ridden beggar whom the rich man denied compassion. Jesus states that when each man died, there was a variance in their respective fate. For Lazarus, who went to heaven, there were spiritual riches. For the unrighteous rich man who once ignored the suffering Lazarus, there were torments and deprivation. The rich man’s plight represents the classic tale of a person who is high in this life but who suffers in the next. Jesus’ story completes the symmetry in that Lazarus, who was the suffering person enjoys heavenly bliss.

Jesus said that things were so bad in Hades that the rich man cried out to Abraham (founding father of the Jews) and asked Lazarus for a drop of water to relieve the suffering. Abraham replied that there was an inseparable divide between heaven and Hades and that no one could pass between the two realms. An oft’ overlooked novelty in this dialogue is that the two parties could talk so casually between the abyss separating heaven and hell. Are the residents of the smoking and non-smoking areas of eternity so close together? It seems like the intriguing possibilities don’t end given the possible ramifications of Jesus’ story.

It wasn’t mere wealth that condemned the rich man as much as his greedy love of money combined with his lack of compassion. This situation stands as a warning against those who are similarly inclined today. If wealth desire so blinds someone to others’ suffering then the perpetrators are living a hellish life even before they die.

There’s a twist in the story about the rich man because in the end he had concern for his still-living brothers, those back on earth who were in danger of facing his same fate if they didn’t find redemption and turn their lives around. Abraham rejected the rich man’s request to confront his brothers because there was already sufficient warning available to those aware and willing to receive it. At least the rich man tried to do some good but it was too late. There’s a lesson here about doing what you can before your time is up.

Amid life’s materialistic distractions do whatever you can to prevent wealth from controlling you. After all, what good does it do to gain the entire world and yet lose your own soul? (Mark 8:36). Pause and consider these truths and, more importantly, allow the transforming Spirit of the Almighty to alter your thoughts and behaviors to love God rather than riches.      –Reverend Larry Hoxey

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