2004-05-14 - Secret Adultery
James 2:5 Listen, my beloved brethren; did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?
Augustine observed that there are some who are rich in this world, who are not rich in this world. This is not really a paradox, because being rich, for many, concerns treasure in heaven, "where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal." Matthew 6:20
I have used the title above, "Secret Adultery," because it seems that many set their affections on earthly things. A piece of earth, or a worldly item, becomes more than something to get, but also something to grasp upon and hold onto. It becomes more than a possession when hopes, expectations, and dreams are placed on it. As we read in Job 31:24, "Have I put my confidence in gold, and called fine gold my trust?"
It is sad when our things become a trap that we fall into, or a stumbling block to us. I have noticed this trend in the recent political events in our day. With the election coming up, I often hear, "Are you better off today than you were such and such a time ago?" It is as if our financial state is the true measure of how things are going with us. Rather than asking, "are you holier than you were a few years ago, or are you better people," the focus is on material things. I think this is a reversal of the way we should be thinking.
God is more concerned with our inward wealth than He is about our outward prosperity. Psalm 62:10, reminds us, "If riches increase, do not set your heart on them." And the wisdom of Solomon in Proverbs 23:4, 5, is helpful here also: "Do not weary yourself to gain wealth; cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone, for wealth certainly makes itself wings, like an eagle that flies toward the heavens."
Let us practice secret faithfulness to our Lord. Let our interests be undivided in our use of the things that God has graciously made us stewards of here on earth. There is nothing wrong with wealth or having things, but when we set our affections upon these things and they manifest an improper focus in our lives, then we need to reflect on our priorities. Remember the rich fool who got all excited about his wealth and possessions in Luke 12:16-21. "...You fool! This night your soul is required of you, and now who will own what you have prepared? So is the man who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."
The observation of Augustine is very true. There are some who are rich in this world, who are not rich in this world. This is because being rich is measured in various ways. The way the world measures richness and the way the spiritual man and the Scriptures measure richness are not the same. How we measure richness is probably a mix between the two, and the world is constantly at our door, trying to lead us to shift our focus from godly wealth, to earthly wealth. We are bombarded, in this culture, every day, from every side, but the Word of God remains true. And the observation of Augustine is a great summary of the teaching of Scripture on this topic.
Soli Deo Gloria,