This article will appear in a community newspaper this week.
Difficult circumstances have a way of robbing us of our life and energy. Recent months have brought some almost unbelievable economic conditions, particularly in our local economy. These difficulties are eating away at people’s hope. We face the prospect of losing jobs (if you have not lost it already), losing homes (if you have not lost it already), losing health coverage (if you had it), and losing life savings (however little it may have been). It is a difficult time, to be sure. It is at times like these that we should think about what life is really supposed to be about.
We live in America and most Americans have bought into the hope of the American dream. We think that we would be satisfied if only we have a better job with a bigger paycheck, or a slightly bigger house on a bigger lot somewhere, or a newer car, or a bigger flat-screen television. But will these things really satisfy?
Jesus once told a story about a man who had a lot of stuff. He was a very rich man. One year, his business did particularly well. In fact, it did so well that his warehouses were not big enough to store everything he had. So he tore down those warehouses and built bigger ones and said to himself, “Take life easy, eat, drink, and be merry.”
And then he died and faced God’s judgment of his life.
And what good did his money do him? He had left it all behind (Luke 12:15–21).
When Jesus told this story, he was not condemning the rich and he was not exalting the poor. Jesus had an entirely different point. He put it this way: “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). Jesus was trying to get people to see that there is something far more important than money, houses, and businesses, and that is God himself. Life is ultimately about God. When we die, we will all answer to him for how we have lived, and all our possessions cannot help us then because we will have left them behind.
When Jesus walked on earth, his life on earth was not about gaining possessions, surviving in difficult economic times, or making sure he got his piece of the pie. The apostle Paul described Jesus’ life this way: “Though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). The riches that Jesus offers to us cannot be measured in the dollars of your paycheck, the square footage of your house, or the size of your pension. Jesus offers riches that can only be measured in terms of eternal life in heaven.
The riches of heaven are closed to us because of our sin against God. But Jesus has opened heaven back up to us by living the perfect life that you should have lived and dying the death that you should have died.
Your money cannot buy these riches for you. You do not have enough. Your good works cannot earn you these riches. You are not good enough. Only Jesus is good enough, and he came to share his riches with us by dying for us. He promises that if you will turn to him and trust in him for salvation from sin, he will give you all the riches of heaven to worship and serve him for all eternity.
These are the only kind of riches that can bring true satisfaction. You will not find it on this earth. But the riches that Jesus alone gives will last far longer and bring far more satisfaction than anything this earth has to offer. And that is what gives us hope for living.