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Sunday Message Supplement for 25 September 2022: “Money Lovin’ “

MESSAGE SUPPLEMENT

Verses for today’s message: 1 Timothy 6:6-19, Luke 16:19-31

The Bible is filled with statements against materialism, wealth and greed. Accordingly, Paul the prolific New Testament writer warned against money’s allure: “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 wealth-sickness, Paul encouraged his readers to have a generous spirit. Paul admonished 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). Greed that escalates to the level of avarice magnifies corruption and encourages abuse of power and privilege.

Critics of wealth must be judicious, however, because demonizing wealthy persons is not the best solution. The basis for criticizing the love of money needn’t be driven by class warfare, envy or hate. We should avoid condemning someone simply because they have more than we do. Consider that it’s not so much about being rich as it is about how people obtain their wealth and what they choose to do with it.

Jesus also addressed how wealth can ruin someone.  In the book of Luke there’s a story about the rich man Lazarus who lived splendidly. Lazarus’ nemesis was a sore-ridden beggar whom the rich man denied compassion. Jesus said that when the men died, each experienced a different fate; Lazarus went to heaven whereas the unrighteous rich man went to hell.

The rich man’s sad plight represents the classic tale of a person who is high and mighty in this life but who suffers in the next. Jesus’ story created a nicely symmetrical structure in that Lazarus, who was suffering during his earthly life, subsequently enjoyed heavenly bliss. Conversely, the rich man who lived sumptuously on earth suffered a bad ending in the next life.

Jesus said that things were so bad in hell for the rich man that he cried out to Abraham (founding father of the Jewish nation). The man’s request was for Lazarus to provide even a drop of water to relieve his horrible thirst. Abraham replied that there was an inseparable divide between heaven and hell and that no one could pass from one to the other even if they wanted to.

An often-overlooked novelty in the dialogue between Abraham and the rich man is that the two parties could talk so casually despite the barrier separating heaven from hell. That is, are the residents of the smoking and non-smoking areas of eternity so close together as to permit communication?

It wasn’t mere wealth that doomed the rich man as much as his love of money, compounded by his lack of compassion. This situation is as a warning against those who are similarly inclined. If wealth so blinds you to others’ suffering then you promote a hellish outcome.

There’s a twist in the story about the rich man because he had concern for his brothers, those back on earth who were in danger of facing a similar fate. Abraham also rejected the rich man’s request to confront his brothers because there was sufficient warning available to them. At least the rich man tried to do the right thing but it was too late. Hence a key insight involves doing what you can before you leave this life.

Amid materialistic distractions and instead 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).

Instead of loving money, allow the transforming Spirit of the Almighty to alter your thoughts and behaviors. By doing so you’ll embrace the spirit of God rather than the ruin of riches.

 –Reverend Larry Hoxey

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