Tuesday, 26 January 2021
Title: Be Rich Toward God
By: Cecilia Tan 陈俊芳
Passage: Luke 12:15-21 (Parable of the Rich Fool)
Back in 1976, the Swedish song group “ABBA” sang one of their best-known tunes “Money Money Money” wherein they fantasised about “all the things I could do if I had a little money.” Forty years on, this is still a highly popular song about money and today’s world is more than ever a “rich man’s world”!
Is every rich man in this world a fool? Who is this rich man in the parable? Certainly in the eyes of the world, he would not be considered a fool. For how could a fool amass so much wealth to keep himself comfortable for many years, and even had to consider building bigger barns to store his abundant harvest? Surely he must have been a smart and shrewd plantation owner who used the best agricultural methods known in his day to ensure his financial success.
Since he had everything he wanted or needed, the rich man focussed on living an easy life. He had a YOLO attitude – You Only Live Once, so indulge yourself and do whatever you want because you do not know when your life will end. This is a trending catch phrase among today’s young people and taken to extremes may be dangerously appealing!
Indeed none of us knows when our departure date from Planet Earth will be, but depart we will, for sure! The brevity of life is best described in James 4:14 “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” Life is fleeting. In the light of eternity, we live but a moment on this earth. The rich man was so busy pursuing money that he had no time to think about the brevity of life, the certainty of death and the length of eternity. And so he lived an earth-bound existence and stored all of his wealth in barns.
Now why did our Lord Jesus call the rich man a “fool”? (Luke 12:20: “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?’” Firstly, the rich fool failed to acknowledge God as the source of his blessings. James 1:17 states that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”Every gift of ours, whether material or otherwise, comes only from the Lord and all blessings that we receive are bestowed upon us in order that we might be a blessing to others.
Secondly, the rich fool believed wrongly that one could satisfy his soul with things. “And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’” Luke 12:19) Today many in the world pursue wealth, power, position, fame and pleasure in all its forms, hoping that these material pursuits will satisfy the deepest longings of the soul. They have not discovered St.Augustine’s nugget of wisdom, which proclaims that “You have made us for Yourself [O Lord], and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”
Thirdly, the rich man allowed himself to be blinded by his wealth. He was engrossed with nothing else in his life except the pursuit and enjoyment of money. In short, money became his god. Every waking moment and every ounce of energy was devoted to the pursuit and accumulation of wealth for the sake of self-indulgence and self-glory. We know money in itself is not evil. But greed and preoccupation with wealth can blind us to our duties to God and to others.
Jesus issues a stern warning in Luke 12:15 “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” However much wealth the man amassed, it could not prolong his life. Five seconds after a millionaire’s or billionaire’s death, someone else will inherit their possessions and enjoy them! We are born with nothing and we will die with nothing! (Job 1:21 “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall depart.”)
If the rich man had practised selfless giving instead of selfish hoarding, God would have been greatly pleased. If he had acknowledged God’s goodness and His generosity by using his wealth to help others, God would have been glorified.
Jesus clearly commands that we should be “rich towards God.” (Luke 12:21 “So it is with the one who stores up riches for himself, but is not rich toward God.”) To be rich toward God, we must first know God and be in a right relationship with Him, so that we love what He loves, and hate what He hates. In this parable it is obvious that God hates greed and covetousness and loves selfless giving and generosity. A person whose life is selfishly caught up in his relentless pursuit of wealth is not rich toward God.
When we are rich toward God, we lead a lifestyle of generosity – a life without greed or hoarding. We give freely, putting all that we have at God’s disposal whether it be time, talents or money to bless others by being rich in good works as directed by apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 6:18 “Tell them ( those who are rich) to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others.”
Instead of living life in pursuit of fleeting riches, may we seek to lay up treasures in heaven as God would have us do. In fact God has already told us what He wants us to do. Micah 6:8 “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
Many are in need during this pandemic… each day may we find a way to share something with someone in need, whether it be our money, time, talents, service, efforts, possessions, ideas, or even words of comfort and encouragement. Thus, we will BE RICH TOWARD GOD!
Our Heavenly Father, we thank You – how abundantly You have bestowed Your material blessings upon us. We acknowledge You as the giver of every good and perfect gift and praise You for Your kindness and generosity toward us. Help us to realise how blessed we are and make our hearts tender to care for the needy in our midst especially during this pandemic. For such a time as this, use us as Your channels of blessing to those in need, whatever their needs may be. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
经文：路加福音 12:15-21 （无知财主的比喻）
早在1976年，瑞典乐队“ABBA”唱了他们最著名的歌曲之一“钱钱钱”（Money），在这首歌中，他们幻想着 “我可以做的一切事情，如果我有少许的钱。” 四十年过去了，它仍然是一首非常流行的关于金钱的歌曲，而且当今的世界比以往任何时候都更是一个 “有钱人的世界”！
既然他已经拥有了他想要或需要的一切，这财主就专注于过一种安逸的生活。他有一个YOLO态度 – 您只活一次（You Only Live Once），所以放纵自己，做您想做的任何事情，因为您不知道您的生命什么时候会结束。这是时下年轻人流行的口头禅，极端化它会是具危险的吸引力！
那么，为何我们的主耶稣称那财主为 “无知的人” 呢？（路加福音12:20） “神却对他说：“无知的人哪，今夜必要你的灵魂；你所预备的要归谁呢？” 首先，那无知的财主没有认识到上帝是他的祝福的源头。雅各书1:17指出 “各样美善的恩赐和各样全备的赏赐都是从上头来的，从众光之父那里降下来的；在祂并没有改变，也没有转动的影儿。” 我们每一个的恩赐，无论是物质的或别样的，惟独从上帝而来；而且我们所领受的一切祝福，赐予我们是为了让我们成为别人的祝福。
第二，这无知的财主误以为一个人可以用物质来满足自己的灵魂。 “然后要对我的灵魂说：灵魂哪，你有许多财物积存，可作多年的费用，只管安安逸逸的吃喝快乐吧。” （路加福音12:19） 今天，世上有许多人追求财富、权力、地位、名望和各种形式的乐趣，希望这些物质追求可以满足那灵魂最深处的渴望。他们没有发现圣奥古斯丁的至理名言宣称：“祢为祢自己而造了我们（主啊），我们的心如此烦躁不安，直到它在祢里头找到安息。”
耶稣在路加福音12:15发出一个严厉的警告：“你们要谨慎自守，免去一切的贪心，因为人的生命不在乎家道丰富。” 无论一个人积聚了多少财富，它都不能延长他的寿命。一个百万富翁或亿万富翁去世后五秒钟，其他人就会继承并享受他们的财产！我们生不带来，死不带去！（约伯记1:21 “我赤身出于母胎，也必赤身归回；赏赐的是耶和华，收取的也是耶和华。耶和华的名是应当称颂的。” ）
耶稣清楚地命令我们要 “在上帝面前富足”。(路加福音12:21 “为自己积蓄财富的人也是如此，但在上帝面前却不富裕。” )要在上帝面前富足，我们必须首先认识上帝，与祂建立正确的关系，这样我们才会爱祂所爱的，厌恶祂所厌恶的。在这个比喻中，上帝显然厌恶贪婪而喜爱无私的施与和慷慨。一个自私地沉迷于对财富的不懈追求的人，在上帝面前是不富足的。
当我们在上帝面前富足时，我们会过一个慷慨的生活方式 – 一个没有贪婪或囤积的生活。我们慷慨地施与，把我们所有，无论是时间、才干还是金钱，交由上帝支配，并透过善行在好事上富足，去祝福其他的人；正如使徒保罗在提摩太前书6:18所指示 “告诉他们（那些富裕的人）用他们的金钱行善。他们应该在好事上富足并在那些有需要的人里乐意供给，常常作准备分享给其他的人。”
我们在天上的父，我们谢谢祢 － 祢多么丰盛地赐予我们物质上的祝福。我们承认祢是施恩者，赋予一切美善又全备的恩赐，因祢的仁慈和乐于施恩给我们，我们赞美祢。帮助我们觉察我们是何等的有福，并让我们以温柔的心地去关怀那些在我们当中穷乏的人，尤其是在这疫情期间。在这样的时刻，使用我们成为祢的管道去祝福其他有需要的人，无论他们的需要是什么。我们奉耶稣的名祷告，阿们。