Here's how I was reminded of all this: I was reading my Bible in Romans, chapter 10, and felt startled as I read the NKJV translation of Romans 10:12... "For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him." The ESV translates it as, "...bestowing his riches on all who call upon him." In other words, God makes us rich! It's as simple as that. So why aren't I rolling in dough?
Paul follows that verse with a clarification: "For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved" (v.13). Those are the "riches" he's talking about! Any other riches this world has to offer don't matter too much to Paul. The world's finances are fickle and fleeting; here today, gone tomorrow. But the riches of salvation aren't like that. They're eternal, untouched by unstable economies and well guarded from greedy thieves.
After pausing at that verse, I wondered to myself, what are these "riches"? I felt forgetful of how extravagantly rich God is toward those who call on Him. So I looked around, and what I was reminded of left me feeling like a man standing among huge sparkling piles of gold coins and precious gems! Check out a few examples of how Paul describes the riches God bestows to us...
- "Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?" (Romans 2:4)
- "In him [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace which he lavished on us" (Ephesians 1:7-8a)
- "so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:7)
- "To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Colossians 1:27)
- "that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ" (Colossians 2:2)
But just like the riches of this world must be pursued to be accumulated, so too must we pursue these spiritual riches if we want to enjoy them. Otherwise we end up as C.S. Lewis describes us in his book "The Weight of Glory": "We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased." If we do want to pursue spiritual riches, Paul is quite clear in the verses above about precisely where we can find them: in Christ, "in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossisns 2:3).
To enjoy the riches of heaven means to pursue Jesus. He is the treasure we're blessed with; He is the Good News of the Gospel. And just like those who have accumulated the world's wealth are intentional and decisive with their resources, we too must be disciplined in seeking Jesus each day in prayer and by reading God's "living and active" Word (Hebrews 4:12), routinely storing it in our hearts by memorizing strategic Bible verses. But we don't do such things to simply tabulate how wealthy we are – we pray and read and memorize so that we can enjoy the very One who is our Treasure and who wants to lavish His treasures upon us.
The Gospel is like a lottery in which every person who has bought a ticket – the price being our lives (Galatians 2:20) – wins the jackpot: a new and abundant eternal life with Jesus! Riches are awarded to all! And it's okay to flaunt our wealth as long as it's by lavishly scattering the love and grace and kindness we've received among the people we're surrounded by! Our riches are not meant to be accumulated in heaps all around us. We ought to spend, spend, spend, with lives of kindhearted love, because there's no end to the incredible riches we've been blessed with!
© 2016 by Ken Peters
Rich beyond measure
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