Rich Towards God
by Jeffrey Bush
“So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:21
Due to all his possessions, the rich man in this passage tore down his barns and built even bigger ones. His greed so consumed his life that God calls him a fool. His life was ended and his possessions were handed over to another. God had just warned that a man’s life doesn’t consist in the abundances of one’s possessions (vs.15).
God is quite vocal when it comes to the topic of money. It may surprise you that God speaks more about money than He does about heaven and hell. There are fatal dangers concerning money — money keeps many lost from being saved and many Christians from serving God fully. God has much to say and teach when it comes to money, but in this passage, specifically, we see some very particular lessons and warnings concerning money.
- Seeking Riches will Destroy — vs. 13-15
In context of the covetousness of this foolish man, Jesus had just told others to “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (vs.15). Desiring to possess more than one currently has will almost always destroy that person. The false hope that money and possessions will bring satisfaction or happiness is just that, a false hope. Life consists much more than tangible possessions one can physically touch.
It is the love of money, according to 1 Timothy 6:10, that causes many good people to err from the faith and be pierced with many sorrows. We tend to think that having a lot of money will hurt a person, but God says the desire for more money and focusing on it will fill one with sorrows and destroy a life. Seeking God first is the best and most fulfilling route (Matthew 6:33), whereas seeking more riches will distract and destroy a person.
- Seek to be Rich Towards God — vs. 21
God told this foolish, rich man that his grave error was that he had riches for himself but not riches toward God. His focus should not have been on temporal riches, but eternal riches (remembering that riches here will be corrupted by moth and rust, but riches in Heaven have no corruption – Matthew 6:19-20). The Apostle Paul later warns that the rich of this world should seek to be rich in good works more than depending on “uncertain riches” (1 Timothy 6:17-18). Using our money to be generous and for God’s work will get our focus off ourselves. Nothing sets the heart’s attitude right about riches like giving it away. Money has a way of gripping the soul, but honoring God with our money (tithes, missions and generosity) will not allow the money to take a strong grip on us. We are told in Matthew 6:21 that our heart follows our money, so which way is our heart following – towards God or away from God?
- Focus on the True Riches — vs. 22
After God rebuked and warned about covetousness and riches, He turns to His disciples and tells them to focus on Himself instead of on the money. Riches of the world will distract and destroy you, but focusing on God will keep the heart right and the needs met. The Creator God who made and owns all is more than capable of taking care of our needs, He just wants to make sure our focus is on Him. Instead of letting the money control us by running after it, we control it by using it for God’s work.
In Matthew 6, we are taught that a child of God is not to take thought of the material “things” (that’s what the lost people do according to vs.32) but to look to God who can supply all these things.
God teaches in 1 Timothy 6:7 that we can’t take the money or possessions with us, so we better focus on Him and not the riches. You may remember the story of the woman who broke the alabaster box – she made a lot of people upset for “wasting” the good spikenard (she could’ve sold it for quite a bit of money), but Jesus said her story will be repeated and remembered (Mark 14:3-9). This woman didn’t waste anything, she invested in true riches, she poured it out to Jesus. All we have and use will be forgotten, but what we use for God and His Kingdom will be remembered. Giving to God and God’s work is not just a wise investment, but it will be remembered and keeps our focus on true riches.