V-MAIL TO THE FRONTLINE
THE ATTITUDE OF GIVING II:
THE FIRST WILL BE LAST
“For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out”. (I Timothy 6:7)
“And behold, one came and said unto Him (Jesus), Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And He said unto him, why do you call me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if you will enter into life, keep the commandments. He said unto Him, which ones? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honor thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. The young man said unto Him, all these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? (what else do I need?) Jesus said unto him, if you will be perfect, (an obedient, faithful disciple) go and sell all that you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions”. (Mathew 19:16-22)
Wagner said, “Joy is not in things – It is in us”. How true and yet how mysterious. The treasures of this world are cold and empty but people believe they can bring true joy. The revelation of joy is – knowing and loving God with “ALL” your heart! We have read this story many times and have thought about what it means. Most of the time we understand the seriousness of what Jesus is saying, but only from a view of someone in the audience watching the drama. We seldom stop to consider the point of this “real life” scenario is to reveal a “deep” truth to us about the attitude of giving. How many times have we thought about the rich young ruler in a negative light for being so attached to his possessions that he just could not fathom having to sell them and give everything away? Or did we secretly think that Jesus was being a little too hard on him by presenting this difficult ultimatum? After all it seems this young man was a good boy and had been raised with good morals. Maybe we thought that this extreme request only applied to those who were called to be “sold-out” disciples – not normal Christians. And some might have come to the conclusion that Jesus was just testing him to see how he would react. Whatever we have pondered, it seems most everyone believes this story does not pertain to their life as I do not personally know anyone that has actually done what Jesus wanted this man to do. After every sermon on this subject that I have heard preached, I have never felt compelled to do this, neither has anyone else even mentioned it. Why? Because even if we did feel conviction to radically change our life, our “human logic” would revolt and scream against immediately! This interchange between the Son of God and this man is a reflection of every disciple and is intended to “expose” the attitude of our heart.
How can any of us be down on this man for feeling the way he did? How would you feel if Jesus asked you to do this? Are we to feel sorry for him? Should we embrace him and tell him that we would feel the same way if Jesus told us that? Allow me to ask a question; IS Jesus asking us to do this? Now brother, let’s not get fanatical, He did not REALLY mean for all of His children to literally go through with this! Well, you may be right, although I am sure this has happened with several people throughout the ages and if the Lord does ask us to do this I pray we will have the courage and faith to do it. But even if we do not get rid of everything and walk around with a backpack, I do believe we should be WILLING to do it out of obedience and trust. We should have a constant attitude that walking with Him is THE most important meaning of life. I believe Father wants us to NOT be so absorbed in this world’s treasures that we cannot let go of them on a moments notice. “Then said Jesus unto His disciples, Verily I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. AND AGAIN I SAY UNTO YOU, (strong emphasis) it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Verses 23 and 24) We can start with asking, is He talking about a lost person or a saved person? Well, the rich young ruler said that he had kept the commandments so we must presume that he knew the Word of God and was living according to God’s law. It would seem that wrong attitudes can infect the Godly and have extreme consequences. Selah. And another question, is “rich” in God’s perspective the same as our opinion of rich? Most of us have everything we need but are not considered rich compared to millionaires. Yet to the third world countries we would appear to be very wealthy in their eyes. I believe the Lord is talking about a deep root of carnality that comes from our old nature and which rules the default system. He seems to be saying the danger with being wealthy is the subtle power of deception. When we dream about the blessing more than the one who gives the blessing, we have fallen under the evil spell of idol worship. Wealth creates authority but carnal attitudes fuel pride. If the Christian allows their wealth to be controlled by their emotions, the dark side of pride can deceive the mind and blind the eyes of the heart. The more selfish we are, the more in bondage we are to our “stuff”. In this light we can conclude that the more generous we are – the more true freedom and joy we can experience in His Spirit! Selah. “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred (turned away) from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows”. (I Timothy 6:9-10) Wealth is a blessing and giving to others is a blessing and as long as this “flow” continues in the joy of the Holy Ghost – all is GOOD! Jesus is just trying to say, this is not as easy as it sounds because there are many spiritual battles in the realm of money. We can use it all day long – but are not fall in love with it! “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work”. (II Corinthians 9:8) “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God”. (II Corinthians 3:5)
I believe that wealth is a healthy part of the blood covenant blessing that God intended for His people the same as physical healing. But if you look closely at the conditions of obedience you will see that miracles are manifested through our faith. After miracles are given it is also clear that obedience is what keeps the life on track with God’s will. If the Lord has given us the blessing of wealth, then He will fulfill the promises of His Word if we continue in our faith and obedience to His voice. His Word does not fail and He is no respecter of persons. Many teachers will stop when it appears that no one that is wealthy can be saved, but I do not believe this is what is being said. We are not to be afraid of money because it is through financial resources that God’s Kingdom can reach out to the masses. We are to be so close to Father in our personal relationship, that even large amounts of money cannot distract or influence us. We need money and He is waiting for us to reach higher levels of maturity so that we can be trusted to fulfill His desires. The gospel is printed, the poor are housed and the hungry are fed because somebody has the money to pay for it! There are many ministries that provide many needs for the poor and there are individuals that are walking in the divine reality as they always have their ears and eyes open for the next divine appointment. I believe in a “perfect world”, God would love for all of His people to be wealthy so they could use their resources to introduce the world to Jesus. As we continue in the text we notice where the super-natural power of God steps in. “When His disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, with men this is impossible; but with God ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE”. (Verses 25-26) I have heard about a gate in Jerusalem that was in existence when Jesus was ministering called the “eye of the needle”. It supposedly was a low gate and to go under it, the camels would have to get on their knees. Whether this is actually true or just a folk legend, the point is the same, that all of us must stay in an attitude of prayer and humility in order to resist the powers of temptation.
“One day a rich but miserly old man came to visit a Rabbi. The Rabbi led him to the window and said, “Look out the window and tell me what you see?” “People,” answered the rich man. Then the Rabbi led him to a mirror, “What do you see now?” he asked. “I see myself” answered the man. Then the Rabbi said, “Behold in the window there is glass and in the mirror there is glass. But the glass of the mirror is covered with a little silver, and no sooner is a little silver added – we cease to see others and see only ourselves”. (S. Ansky.)
Luther used to say that every Christian needed a three-fold conversion, that of their heart, their head and their pocketbook. We need to know that every dollar in our keeping belongs to God and must be used so as to best promote the interest of His Kingdom. One of the most important realities to learn is to make Him the Lord of our finances by consecrating everything we have to the Father. “But whoso hath this world’s goods and sees his brother have need, and closes up his bowels of compassion from him, how can the love of God dwell in him? My little children let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth”. (I John 317-18) “And everyone that has forsaken houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name’s sake, shall receive a hundred-fold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first”. (Mathew 19:29-30) To be like God is to be a constant channel of giving, “for God so loved the world that He gave”. Selah.