by Mike Ratliff
16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, 18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. Revelation 3:16-18 (NASB)
I have stopped listening to the media on anything having to do with politics. Since the entertainment elites are bound and determined to have their say in the political fray I have also stopped watching much of that, of course, I don’t watch that much TV anyway so this isn’t a great sacrifice for me. This morning on Facebook a good friend posted something where she was venting about the stuff that had gone on at the Emmys last night. I didn’t see it so I had no idea what it was, but I had a good idea by reading some of the comments. I made this comment:
I quit watching the news several months ago. I guess I don’t know what is going on, but then again, my hope is not in a President or a political party. My hope is in Christ. Pray for your family. Pray for your lost relatives and friends. Be that person always ready to be the hands and feet of Christ in all situations. Racism is for fools. Our enemy is using all those negative things to divide us. Get you focus back on Christ and follow Him. I have to work on this as well…
As we walk out our lives here in the Church age where should our focus be? I know many professing Christians who are all about using politics and political parties to maneuver things around in such a way that they believe they can bring about a national revival of some sort. I was serious in my comment that our hope cannot be in those things. No our focus, our hope, must be in Christ and our treasure, therefore, must not be here in this lost and dying world, but in Heaven. Here is the Apostle Paul’s description of his ministry.
3 giving no cause for offense in anything, so that the ministry will not be discredited, 4 but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, 5 in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, 6 in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, 7 in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, 8 by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true; 9 as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, 10 as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things. 2 Corinthians 6:3-10 (NASB)
The mark of a ministry that has God’s approval upon it is paradoxical because God’s ways are not Man’s ways. Paul was faithful yet afflicted horrendously by the enemies of the Gospel. However, through those sufferings he and his ministry were blessed by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, and genuine love. Because of this, he was empowered with truthful speech. The weapons that God gave him to use were both defensive (left) and offensive (right).
As Paul obediently ministered within God’s plan, he and his ministry received both honor and dishonor. The honor from God and the mature believers while the dishonor came from the self-righteous and false teachers. They slandered Paul yet at the same time the godly encouraged him through their support and praise. These false teachers and those they deceived accused Paul and his fellow ministers as being imposters even though the opposite was true. Paul was persecuted far beyond what most of us can imagine yet, paradoxically, God prospered him and even validated the authenticity of his ministry through it. This brought Paul sorrow yet he was always rejoicing in the Lord. Why? How could he do this? Was Paul’s focus on having his best life now? No! Paul’s ministry was grounded in making many rich. This is spiritual wealth my brethren, not wealth as the world counts it.
All in Christ are wealthy beyond anything we can imagine. Paul says that we possess everything even though we have nothing here and now. What did Jesus tell us in His Sermon on the Mount?
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21 (NASB)
The word ‘treasure’ in this passage in Greek speaks of wealth and as our Lord used it here, it refers to growing it through deposits. No matter how safe we think physical wealth is, it is not safe at all. It can all go away in a flash. Never forget my brethren that the money that we cling to and chase with our all is only valuable as a medium of exchange. It has no intrinsic value itself. It would not take much for things to get so bad in our economy and society that it would be considered worthless. Our Lord says to not put all our efforts in laying up (depositing) treasure here in the temporal, but instead, make regular deposits in heaven. In other words, we are commanded here to use all God gives us to invest in His Kingdom. This means we are to be generous with our time and assets to further the preaching of the Gospel that brings sinners to salvation. We are to disciple others so they will do the same. This is laying up treasure in heaven.
13 Someone in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” 14 But He said to him, “Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” 16 And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. 17 And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ 18 Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ 21 So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
22 And He said to His disciples, “For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! 25 And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? 26 If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. 30 For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. 31 But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. 32 Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.
33 “Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:13-34 (NASB)
This passage is an exhortation to not worry about the temporal, what we are to eat or wear. Instead, our Lord tells us to be rich toward God. We are called to put our focus on furthering the Kingdom and not worry about money or possessions. Worry paralyzes. When we are fully trusting God for our provision then we are free to obey Him and serve Him in ways we could never do if all we did was pursue temporal wealth or struggle to earn enough to not have the mortgage company foreclose on our houses. When we make regular deposits in heaven it as if we are putting our treasure in moneybags that never fail.
Therefore, let us not be consumed with fear as the stock market plummets and the economy goes through whatever God is doing to it. Let us not participate in this horrendous political strife and racial unrest that our enemy is stirring up. Instead, turn your eyes upon the Lord. Draw near unto Him and He will draw near unto you. Place all of your trust in Him to feed and clothe you and your family. This life is just a vapor. It is here for a little while then it is gone. Eternity is forever. Doesn’t it make more sense to have our wealth there than here? Those who do may have nothing in the world’s eyes, but in truth, they have everything.
Soli Deo Gloria!