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Wealth and God's economy

Just a short thought regarding the following verse that I read the other day.

Matthew 11:5
The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.

What I found interesting was God's solution to each of the mentioned issues; the first five were obvious:

  1. The blind see
  2. The lame walk
  3. The leapers are healed
  4. The deaf hear
  5. The dead are resurrected.

The last one caught my attention:

  • The poor are given the Gospel.

The Gospel? Why not food, employment, education etc. Surely this is tantamount to what James 2:16 is talking about; "Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?"

It is interesting that in an age where many claim that they aim to eradicate world poverty that Christ said, "the poor you will always have with you" (Matt 6:11). I leave it up to you to decide who's claim is more likely to be correct. Furthermore when one considers Jeremiah, Lazarus (who lay at the rich man's table), those of whom the world is was not worthy (Hebrews 11) and many believers throughout time right up until the present ("Foxe's Book of martyrs") you have to realise that God does not put the same emphasis on material possession, comforts and wealth that we do.

The whole issue revolves around the fact that so often I do not have the correct focus. I become so focused on my current life that I forget that it  is just a vapour and that in truth eternity is more of a reality than the here and now. While wealth and health may address a person's immediate needs, it only does so for a very short time i.e. 70 to 120 years. Based on the truth of scripture it is easy to prove mathematically that, in light of eternity, material success (or lack thereof) achieved over 120 years is of absolutely no consequence. In short, as usual, when Christ addresses and issue, He cuts to the chase and puts His finger on the very issue i.e. without knowledge of the Gospel, man (regardless of his achievements) is utterly lost. While he may live a certain quality of life this side of eternity, if he doesn't know Christ i.e. is not born-again, on crossing that eternal divide we will be eternally lost.

So if eternity and the Gospel are so important why worry about healing? Why not just preach the Gospel to the blind, deaf, lame etc? Well by presenting Matthew 11:5 is this way, God is simply highlighting the deceitfulness of riches and possessions (Matthew 13:22, 1 Timothy 6:10)  and the fact that when man trusts in his own solutions, that he very quickly takes his eye's off of God (just consider King Saul and King David and were they lost the plot).

Just think about it, sight, mobility, health, hearing and life are all God's gift to us. Senses and abilities that He has given to us for not only our enjoyment but to also enable us to draw close to Him. While these truly do improve our quality of life they also highlight our dependency on Him. Wealth on the other hand is generally a measure of our ability to make a plan and provide for ourselves; to get by without God. And while we tend to think that this money will buy us happiness it very seldom fulfils all our needs but rather results in us taking our eyes off God while we focus on the treadmill of life where we are never satisfied or never have enough.

In closing, wealth in itself is not bad, after all if we do not work, and earn money, we can not eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10) but at the same time we need to guard against it's deceitfulness (Matthew 13:22) because the love if it is the root of ALL evil (1 Timothy 6:10). The perspective is maintained when like Abraham and Paul, we keep our mind's focused on things above (Philippians 3:14), looking for a city which which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:10). It is often said that someone is so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good. I totally disagree. There is no way one can be too heavenly minded or else that would not only disqualify Enoch, Abraham, and Paul from being good examples for us, by Christ Himself. Rather I put it to you that it is because we are not heavenly minded enough that we are so often of no earthly good; and I think the current state of the today's churches bears testimony to this truth.

Yes, let's do as James encourages us and attend to the needs of those less fortunate than ourselves but at the same time let us never lose sight of the fact that unless a person knows God i.e. is in a relationship with Christ, that their true needs will never be met. In short, as we feed and help the poor practically, with the Holy Ghost's help, let us lead them to Christ.