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Are you rich toward God?

A lesson on priorities

And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
Luke 12:16-21

What is Jesus talking about here? He's talking about priorities. He's not saying working for money is bad, or that having a nest egg is bad. He's saying that working for retirement should not be our main focus. Notice also that even when this man retires, he plans to "eat, drink, and be merry". No where in the Bible does it recommend this as a way to live. While occassional vacations are fine, God put us here on earth to be productive.

Just before giving this parable, a man complained about his brother keeping too much of their father's inheritance. Like this man, too many of us focus on our needs, wants, and desires. Jesus knows what you and your family need. So, after sharing this parable, he gave illustrations about our Heavenly Father taking care of the birds and the flowers, and concluded with "seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" Matthew 6:33 (Luke 12:31).

Rich toward God
This should be our goal. Going to church once a week, and listening to Christian music is not enough. A rich Christian life means our life in Christ is overflowing with the fruit of the Spirit including love, joy, peace, patience, etc. We need to "abide in Christ" meaning we live with Christ in mind all the time.

If you're married, you abide with your wife. How often do you see her? All the time, except when you're at work, right? The same should be true with your life in Christ. Every day we should be reading the Bible and memorizing and meditating on scriptures. As a family, we should read Bible stories together, and talk about how they pertain to our lives.

Abiding in Christ obviously includes going to church at least once or twice a week, while also attending occassional Christian seminars or events. But if you've been going to church for more than a few years, why not get involved? Church attendance once a week is merely survival mode for a Christian. When you get involved in your church, you're storing up rewards in heaven. We need to show up whenever we can, and donate time and money to bless the pastors and the church. When we talk about rewards in heaven, someone might think, "I don't want to be greedy." Here's the deal: if God didn't want you to have rewards in heaven, He wouldn't give them to you.

Burn out
Working a secular job 45 hours a week and attending church once a week is about the most many people can handle. I understand that. When you have young children, it's hard to take time to volunteer. Start slow. Your relationship with your spouse and family are more important than volunteering. Also, daily time with the Lord including worship, prayer, scripture study, and Bible reading need to be a priority. All these things can be done with your spouse and children, but don't count this as special time with your spouse. When you're married, you have to spend several hours alone with your spouse every week for a good marriage. Don't use your time with the Lord as an excuse to neglect your spouse. That is sin. God desires "obedience not sacrifice".

So, what are the priorities? The first group below leads to a rich Christian life, while adding the second group is even better:
Rich Toward God
  • Daily time with the Lord (worship, prayer, and the Bible)
  • Weekly time with your spouse (just the two of you)
  • Weekly time with your children
  • Church once or twice a week (and Christian music at home!)
Free Time
  • Church two or three times a week
  • Volunteering at church
  • Christian concerts, seminars, and events
  • Prayer and fasting

The whole first group is very important because no relationship should be neglected. It's more about making the decision to improve in these areas than anything else. If you happen to skip a priority once in a while, it's not a big deal. Just pick yourself up, and prioritize again. In conclusion, a life that's rich toward God always includes time with your spouse, time with your family, and daily time with the Lord and His Word!