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Friday, April 4, 2014

Principle 7: Know What Riches Are

Riches are elusive - especially when we are pursuing them.  Riches seldom fall into our laps, delivered on a silver platter, all nice and neat.  Instead, we have to pursue, labor, direct our focus, and spend a whole lot of time going after them.  Now, don't get me wrong - I don't want to live in a cardboard box, but if we just begin to consider this a little, we might just get a little insight into our seventh principle for living with a solid foundation in life.  Riches are not "prohibited" or "bad" for a Christian, but they are not the end-all!  I think our purpose today is to discover where our true riches are and how they are obtained, maintained, and continually refreshed.  

Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich; restrain yourself!  Riches disappear in the blink of an eye; wealth sprouts wings and flies off into the wild blue yonder.  (Proverbs 23:4-5 MSG)

To be certain, our riches are really not the things or "bank balance" we attain, but the richness of God's grace, love, and purpose in our lives.  What we often find ourselves doing is pursuing what we "think" will make us happy in some sense, rather than accepting what we can "count on" to fulfill us totally.  Look at the two words I used there - pursuing and accepting.  Once we determine our actions as either "pursuing" or "accepting", we might just have a little bit of an indicator of what types of riches we are after in this lifetime!  Those which elude us need to be pursued - those which are gifted to us need to be accepted.

God's grace and love are "accepted" riches - we "amass" them at the point of our acceptance of the sacrificial death of Christ and the placement of our hope in his finished work on the cross.  We "accrue" these riches into our lives the longer we walk with Jesus and learn of him.  Today's grace will be built upon tomorrow, and tomorrow's will increase even more, and so on.  We are not really amassing "more" - just coming to appreciate the significance of his grace and love more fully each day.  We are truly receiving, not pursuing, because God pursues US in order to bring us close to him.  We just nuzzle up in response to his love and grace - this is what we often refer to as US pursuing him. 

Earthly treasures are fine - they fulfill a purpose in this life here on earth.  I need a car to get back and forth to work, and God has blessed me with a very reliable one.  I need clothing to cover my nakedness, but it is not the clothing which truthfully adorns me.  I require food to keep my body functioning correctly and at optimum health, but food is not what I pursue.  These are things I am trusting God to provide - giving me good health and the ability to work well in my chosen profession.  What I am focused on daily is the purposeful spending of time getting into his Word, allowing it to get into me, and letting his still-small-voice speak into the depths of my spirit.

There is a joke which goes something like this:  A man meets an angel one day and is told today is his time to leave this earth. He is given the opportunity to take anything from this earth he wants - just one thing.  He chooses all the gold he has amassed in his treasury.  When he arrives in heaven, he is greeted by the same angel.  The angel questions him about his choice of bringing the gold.  The man says he has worked hard for it and the angel says, "Yeah, but I just don't understand why you brought paving material to heaven!"  We are unaware of the magnitude of God's riches until we allow him to reveal them to us.  Our writer wants us to beware of the "pursuit" of what doesn't really last. In turn, he hopes we will learn the meaning of our true "wealth" or "riches" - Jesus Christ.  To be a child of God is to come into the fullness of all the "wealth" of God's Kingdom.  Don't live to pursue what amounts to "paving material" in God's economy!  Just sayin!