Determined to Be Rich Spiritually
GETTING rich materially requires focused effort and sacrifice. So does getting rich spiritually. This was implied by Jesus when he said: “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” (Matthew 6:20) Spiritual riches do not gather themselves. Merely having a religion will not make a person spiritually rich any more than just having a bank account will make him financially wealthy. Cultivating an intimate relationship with God, developing as a spiritual person, and becoming rich in spiritual qualities require determination, time, focused effort, and sacrifice.
Can You Have Both?
Cannot one have both spiritual riches and an abundance of material things? Perhaps, but only one of these can be successfully pursued. Jesus said: “You cannot slave for God and for Riches.” (Matthew 6:24b) Why not? Because the pursuit of spiritual riches and material riches implies a conflict. The one interferes with the other. Thus, before telling his disciples to store up spiritual riches, Jesus said: “Stop storing up for yourselves treasures upon the earth.”
If one disregards Jesus’ counsel and tries to pursue both spiritual and material riches, what will happen? Jesus said: “No one can slave for two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stick to the one and despise the other.” (Matthew 6:24a) When one pursues both, then spiritual matters, even if cared for out of a sense of duty, may become a nuisance that always seems to be getting in the way. Instead of looking to God, one might even look to money and what it buys as the primary means of coping with life’s anxieties. It is as Jesus said: “Your heart will always be where your riches are.”
Each Christian does well to consider such Bible counsel seriously before deciding where he will focus his time, his attention, and his heart. Just because God does not provide specific limits on how much a Christian can acquire does not mean that His warnings against greed carry no penalty. (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10) Those who disregard Bible counsel and cultivate a determination to be rich suffer spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, as we have seen. (Galatians 6:7) By contrast, Jesus said that those who are sensitive to their spiritual needs will be happy. (Matthew 5:3) Certainly our Creator and his Son know what is best for our happiness and welfare!
A Choice You Will Not Regret
What will it be for you, God or riches? It is obvious that we must give some attention to our material needs. In his first letter to Timothy, the apostle Paul said: “Certainly if anyone does not provide for those who are his own, and especially for those who are members of his household, he has disowned the faith and is worse than a person without faith.” Paul also encouraged Christians to place their hope, not in money, but on God and “to be rich in fine works.” (1 Timothy 5:8; 6:17, 18) On what will you focus? What will you pursue? Chief among the fine works Paul referred to is the preaching and disciple-making activity that Jesus gave his disciples to do. (Matthew 28:19, 20) When Christians voluntarily simplify their lives, not merely to slow down and enjoy life but to have a greater share in this meaningful work, they are “treasuring up for themselves a fine foundation for the future” in God’s promised new world. And even now they find that spiritual riches are “O how much better than gold!”
Consider the experience of Eddie, whose family became Jehovah’s Witnesses when he was young. At one point his family lost all their assets, and they were forced to move out of their home. Eddie explains: “I had always worried about what would happen if we got to the point where we actually had nothing. Well, now we had nothing. And do you know what happened? Nothing! We still ate, drank, and clothed ourselves. Jehovah provided, and in time we recovered from our losses. This experience taught me to take seriously what Jesus promised at Matthew 6:33
Unlike treasures on earth, which thieves can steal, spiritual riches can be permanent. (Proverbs 23:4, 5; Matthew 6:20) It is true that spiritual progress is harder to measure. It is not as easy to determine the extent to which one has grown in love, joy, or faith as it is to ascertain one’s financial progress. But the rewards of spiritual riches are immeasurable. Speaking of disciples who would leave even their houses and fields
What will you put first in your life? God or riches?
[Pictures on page 8, 9]
Are you pursuing material riches . . .
. . . or spiritual riches?