#25 Riches and Faith

1 February 1999

"For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich"- 2 Cor. 8:9 The false prophet will tell us that faith and riches go hand in hand. If we have enough faith, we will have enough money. If we can't pay our bills, and live as we would like, it has nothing to do with our slothfulness, or our extravagant spending. It is just a personal problem with our religion and our faith. And if we will send our money to him, he, as well as his ardent supporters, will pray for us, that we may have every thing our heart desires. What a contrast we find in this mind-set as to that of Jesus who "though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor". The mind-set of the first Christians was not centered upon material things. Their hearts and their souls burned for the honor and glory of Christ. I don't find them all wealthy people, but I do find their faith intact. They did not serve Christ in order to become wealthy, nor did they expect Him to make them so. Surely, they did not believe that faith and wealth went hand in hand. Since He became poor for their sakes, their mind was of the same opinion. They descended to where He was. Consider Mary, the mother of Jesus. From the throne of God, the angel Gabriel hailed her as , "highly favored", "blessed art thou among women"-Luke 1:28. But did the world observe her as such? She was falsely accused of fornication. She had her first baby in a barn. Her family gave the poorest of offerings to the church. She fled from city to city because the king sought to kill her Son. She was the wife of a poor carpenter. She witnessed the slander and murder of her Son upon a cross. She died in what we would call poverty, kept but by her Son's friend. You can be quite sure she would never have been invited to appear on "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous". But her religion and her faith was on target and her testimony is forever engraved in God's word. According to God, she was "blessed". Are these not the true riches? Consider the apostle Paul. There was a day in which he would glory in the flesh. He gave his qualifications to glory in Philippians chapter 3. He was a wealthy Pharisee with a social position his piers would envy. He had power, money and a name. He had the uppermost seat in the synagogue. But when he met Jesus he changed his religion, "I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ." -Philippians 3:8. Saul means "exalted one". That was what he would be called among the Pharisees. Paul means "little". In his mind, that was his position among the Saints. He became poor for Christ. Was there a problem with this man's faith? We must remember that God calls His people from every walk in life: rich, poor, unknown and well known. From time to time, God has blessed his people with wealth. David was a wealthy man. So was his son, Solomon. And we read of others such as Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, and even Zacchaeus. But they did not serve God for wealth. Consider "Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich." But when the Lord came by that day he outstripped rich and poor and climbed into a tree to see Jesus. The Lord went home with Zacchaeus that day and I am sure he could have gone anywhere he wanted. But did you notice Zacchaeus' heart? Did it not burn for Christ? Mammon(riches) and faith. They do not always go hand in hand. Every wealthy person was not made so by God and every poor person was not called upon to suffer need. Wealth is not the yardstick that God uses to measure our faith. Nor should it be ours. We can not judge the book by its cover. We must look inside. It is the heart that God looks upon and it is His pleasure to look upon a heart that has been conformed to Christ, "that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich"- 2 Cor. 8:9. Lord, increase our faith that we would think more like Him! Come to worship with us at HARMONY PRIMITIVE BAPTIST CHURCH, at Donaldson, where God is sovereign and salvation is by His abundant and amazing grace. Services begin at 10:30 a.m. each Sunday morning. Phone 501-337-1115. By His Grace, Neil Phelan, Jr., Pastor.