Teaching About Reliance on Wealth

67. Teaching About Reliance on Wealth

Jesus message here is pretty clear: the measure of our life is not in how much we possess, but in how rich we are toward God. In other words, how conscious we are of life’s larger purpose and meaning.

It’s interesting that our culture preaches exactly the opposite message. Each of us is hammered daily with snake-oil assurances that our self-worth can be found in what we wear, own, live in and belong to. And what’s really scary is how quickly these messages have gone global, driving the ambitions of billions of human beings around the world and bringing our life-support systems to the brink of collapse.

Multiplied by several billion, a value system that preaches laying up treasures upon the earth simply cannot be sustained by the earth.

So what does Jesus recommend? That we lay up for ourselves treasure in heaven. Make the relationship with God primary. It is the one relationship that is permanent and that no one can take from us. It hearkens back to Jesus’ parable about building a house upon rock, rather than sand.

And what does it mean to make the relationship with God primary? We have been given the requirements: To love God with all our soul, mind, heart and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. The commitment to love must be total -- no man, having put his hand to the plow, and turning back, is fit for the kingdom of God. See our own humanity clearly. Deal with our anger and resistances. And do right by everyone, even our enemy.

It would seem that as we become more conscious of all that has been given to us we cannot help but be overwhelmed with gratitude. And if anything best describes what it means to be rich toward God, it is the feeling that “my cup runneth over” – so much so that there is no possibility that we would yet greedily clamor for more.

Understanding, appreciating and being satisfied with how much we’ve been given are what growing up is all about. Teenagers often have little appreciation for all that has been done for them. The take it for granted. But one day, when they’re older, they look back and say, how could I have been so blind?

Perhaps we as a species are on this cusp between adolescence and adulthood, where finally we can see that we have been given more than enough, and can now turn our attention to what we can give back.

[See also “Teaching About Reliance on Wealth” (Commentary 12-67), “God vs. Mammon” (Commentary 13-75), “Relation of Possessions to Eternal Life” (Commentary 14-85), “The Rich Publican of Jericho” (Commentary 14-88).]