Being Rich in the Best Way of All

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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“Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”

Luke 12:21

In yesterday’s reflection, we focused on a statement of Jesus that teaches us how not to evaluate our lives: “Life is not measured by how much you own” (12:15). On the heels of this advice, Jesus told a story about a rich man with a highly productive farm. When he had more crops than he knew what to do with, rather than sharing them with the poor, the rich man built even bigger barns so he could store all of his harvest. From that time onward, he planned to sit back and enjoy life. But, that very night he man died. He reaped no benefit from his great riches. The moral of the story, according to Jesus, is “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God” (12:21).

Now we know how to measure our lives. Now we know that it’s good to be rich, not in possessions, but in God. That’s how the Greek of Luke 12:21 reads literally, “[A fool] stores up treasures for himself and is not rich toward God.” Being rich in God is the best kind of wealth a person can have. It surpasses everything else.

So, then, how can we be rich in God? In order to answer this question, we need to peek at a passage in Luke 12 that comes later in the chapter. In verse 33, Jesus said, “Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven!” One essential way to be rich in God, therefore, is to be generous with others, especially with the poor. Here Jesus reflects the teaching of the Old Testament as epitomized in Proverbs 19:17: “If you help the poor, you are lending to the LORD and he will repay you.”

According to the French philosopher Jacques Ellul, giving itself helps to weaken the power of greed in our lives: “We cannot measure the power of giving in human relations. Not only does it destroy the power of money, but even more, it introduces the one who receives the gift into the world of grace” (Money and Power, p. 112)[1]. Thus, when we give, we not only store up treasures for ourselves in heaven and become “rich toward God,” but also we become free from the power of Mammon over us and we help others to experience the grace of God.

Surely, there are many ways to be “rich in God.” Yet, in Luke 12, Jesus focuses our attention on the wealth that comes to us when we give generously from our material blessings. We become rich in the very best way of all.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Can you think of other ways for a person to be “rich in God”? How does giving to the poor help us to become “rich in God”? What keeps us from being generous with others? What encourages you to give generously?

PRAYER: Indeed, Lord, I want to be rich in you. I want to live my life in a way that matters, rather than squandering my time for that which fades away.

Help me, Gracious God, to be generous with others, especially with the poor. May I take the gifts you have given me and “regift” them for those in need. May my heart be open to the poor, both in the matter of giving and in the matter of receiving. Set me free from the power of Mammon as I give away some of what you have entrusted to me.

All praise be to you, O God, because you show us how to give through the gift of Jesus Christ. Amen.