Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?
Larry Silverstein is an American businessman, real estate investor and developer in New York City. Despite owning impressive real estate in New York City, he was obsessed with the desire to own the great Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. His wish came true and on July 24, 2001, the lease was purchased by the Silverstein Group for $3.2 billion. Silverstein said, "This is a dream come true. We will be in control of a prized asset, and we will seek to develop its potential, raising it to new heights." Six weeks later, those two imposing skyscrapers were destroyed by terrorists in what is now famously known as the 9/11 attacks.
"I said to my wife, 'Now that we've got the brass ring ... whatever you want to do that we delayed all these years doing, we can do.' It didn't turn out that way," Silverstein added, "Such is life." That was the end of his dream.
Doesn’t this story remind you of the Parable of the Rich Man Jesus told (Lk.12:16-21)?
“And he told them this parable: 'The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ ‘Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’ ‘But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ ‘This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.’” – Lk.12:16-21
In this parable, Jesus was not saying it is wrong to have wealth. He tells to guard against greed. He says this before the start of the parable.
Beware! Don’t always be wishing for what you don’t have. For real life and real living are not related to how rich we are.” - Lk.12:15 (TLB)
Greed is one of the dangers of pursuing wealth at any cost. Our society promotes a materialistic lifestyle. If you have money, you can send your kids to more expensive schools while the less fortunate attend government-aided neighbourhood schools. Hospitals treat you better because you have better consultants while less privileged patients have doctors with less experience. When you hold a first class ticket, you get the red carpet treatment at airports, while everyone else travels economy. There is a great divide between those who have money and those who don't, sending the message that if you have money, you have a better life.
Again, Jesus does not oppose wealth. Possessions are fine, but don't let those possessions own you. Money can be possessed, but we should not be possessed by it. It is okay to own things, but we shouldn't treasure them. While managing wealth and power, we must live simply. As a people of God, we are called to use money within a properly disciplined spiritual life and to manage money for the good of all humanity.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. - Mt.6:19-20
We Need a New Heart
To store treasures in heaven, we must invest in things eternal. The desire for earthly things needs to be replaced with eternal, everlasting, never-perishing treasures. This desire can only come about with a transformed heart that values Jesus more than wealth and possessions. Paul says:
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. – Col.3:2
As we look to Christ and trust in the Holy Spirit for our transformation, we will desire the things that are of His kingdom for His glory, rather than for ourselves on earth.
Embrace A Giving Spirit
One thing that will be in heaven will be people. Investing in people is one way to lay up treasure in heaven. The money you give to the church or for missions or evangelical work is money invested for God's kingdom.
We should also use our money to help fellow Christians in need. Paul said,
Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Rom. 12:13.
The early church sold their possessions and distributed to Christians in need (cf. Acts 2:45), and we can do the same for our brothers and sisters around the world. Being a true disciple of Jesus means meeting the needs of poor and suffering Christians.
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[ you did it to me.’ - Mt. 25:34-40
True Christians are revealed by their benevolent care for fellow Christians in need. Their love for one another makes them Christ's disciples. It is a call to stand with Christian brothers and sisters who are in need. It's a call to help a single Christian mother buy a new pair of shoes for a 7-year-old girl. It is a call to visit elderly Christian widows and widowers in nursing homes. It is a call to pay groceries for a brother who has lost his job. It is a call to stand with poor and persecuted Christians in North Korea and the Middle East. It is a call to be the church, the body of Christ.
Although we might not see any reward on earth for helping those in need, we know that we are advancing the heavenly kingdom and giving God glory, which is more valuable than having an abundance of treasure on earth. Our Lord sees what we do for Him, and we will be rewarded "at the resurrection of the just" (Lk. 14: 14).
Live the Simple Life
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty, I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. Paul then goes on to reveal the secret in verse 13, I can do everything through Him who gives me strength. - Phil. 4:12
Try to live simply instead of trying to live like others around us. Making it in life keeps our eyes focused on earthly treasures and pursuits. People may strive for bigger, better and more in any number of ways. Yet, chasing after success for ourselves and trying to keep up with everyone else will eventually leave us feeling empty, exhausted and discontented. Life will be meaningless.
Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless. – Ecc. 5:10
Regardless of how much money we have, we are responsible for how we use it. True believers should be known for their generosity. In times of persecution, Christians give their lives; in times of prosperity, Christians give the fruits of their lives' work.
You alone are God. To You, O God do we give thanks. We thank You for Your eternal love and unmerited grace. We thank You for Your unfailing love for us that never ends and Your mercies which never cease. Thank You for blessing us with jobs that provide us with income. Thank You for promotions and raises. Thank You for favour with our bosses and co-workers. Spirit of God, guide us to save, spend and invest money in obedience to Your perfect plan for our lives and our families. Guide us to be faithful stewards of Your financial blessings. May we be contented with our lot in life. And may we never turn a blind eye to a brother or sister in need.
In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.