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“How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:24).

“Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Tim 6:9-10).

“Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God” (Prov 30:8)

“Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” (1 Timothy 6:18-19)

Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (Matt 19:21)

The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matthew 13:44)

This post is a short add-on to my last one on God provision for us based upon Matthew 6.  What I would like to focus on this time is how much difference there is between what God wants for his kingdom and what we see happening in the world around us.

Modern Consumerism

consumerism

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You would have to be living in a hole somewhere to not notice our society becoming more and more materialistic.  We work really hard (long hours) so that we can buy more, bigger, and better stuff.  It’s all about the “stuff” folks!  As comedian George Carlin used to say!  (warning- Carlin uses explicit language in most of his routines).

If you doubt this then I would challenge you to just visit any large shopping center during the holidays!  Have you noticed that more and more holidays are being used as materialistic heydays?  Of course, Christmas has been like this for many years, but now we have every holiday becoming more and more of a “feast” for our shopping delights.  Also, now with the smart phones we have a whole new avenue to be sold and purchase more stuff!

Why do we need all of this stuff?  I recently did a quick study on the happiest countries in the world.  You can Google this if you like.  You will find that these countries are on the top of the list: Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Finland.  But the question begs to be answered… WHY?  According to people who live in Denmark, they are happier because they live a simple, worry-free life.  Stuff is not the priority, relationships are!  Have you heard of “hygge“? In essence, hygge (pronounced ‘hooga’) means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. The warm glow of candlelight, for example, is hygge.

Birds and Lilies

But of course we already know this because our Lord Jesus told us explicitly that living a simple life in utter dependence upon God would guarantee a worry-free existence.

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? “And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” (Matthew 6:25-32)

And yet we think that we need to have all our “ducks in a row” and secure our financial futures!  We need large bank accounts, IRAs, CDs, stocks, and so on to keep us protected and safe for the rest of our days.  That’s exactly what the Lord told us to do, right?  Store up all our treasures here on the earth, right!

W R O N G !!!

As we all know He told us to store up our treasures (riches) in heaven.

But how do we do that?

Well, first of all, in the context of this passage Jesus is speaking about the kingdom of God (the heavens).  In Matthew chapter five he begins his discourse on the description of the kingdom.  The beatitudes sum up a description of the people in the kingdom and their character.  Of course, the King (Jesus) is at the Center of the kingdom!  So then we have the summation of everything the King is talking about the kingdom in chapter 6 verse 33.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  (Matthew 6:33)

The main point in this whole passage is the Kingdom of the heavens (God).  So laying up treasure in heaven means to invest in the kingdom of God, not the world system of man controlled by Satan.  It’s His interests and His purpose that is at the forefront for the citizens of the kingdom.

Also, we have this:

“Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” (1 Timothy 6:18-19)

Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (Matt 19:21)

So in these verses we see (very clearly) that “laying up treasures” practically means being generous, rich in good works, ready to share, and giving to the poor.

We need to make some dramatic, concrete moves to escape the materialism that seeps into our minds via diabolically clever and incessant advertising. We have been brainwashed to believe that bigger houses, more prosperous businesses, and more sophisticated gadgets are the way to joy and fulfillment. As a result, we are caught in an absurd, materialistic spiral. The more we make, the more we think we need in order to live decently and respectably. Somehow we have to break this cycle because it makes us sin against our needy brothers and sisters and, therefore, against our Lord. And it also destroys us. Sharing with others is the way to real joy.”
― Ronald J. Sider, “Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger: Moving from Affluence to Generosity

 
So… seeking first the kingdom means (in part) that all of our resources are to be invested in God’s purpose and plan to propagate his kingdom of the heavens on the earth. We are to live simply, without worry, trusting him to provide for all our needs. As we go about living a life in Christ and by Christ, then God will have his interests satisfied.