, , , , , , , ,

Many pastors and other spiritual leaders in today’s institutional church mistakenly think that they can be everything to everyone. The real truth is that it takes more than one person to meet the needs of every deprived church member. It also takes more than one person to meet the needs of the disadvantaged people in any community, any work environment, and so forth.

God teaches us in His Word that every believer must work together with other believers so that the needs of each person can be met. Notice what Hezekiah Walker’s choir sings in “I Need You To Survive.” They sing:

I need you; you need me.  We’re all a part of God’s Body. Stand with me; agree with me.  We’re all a part of God’s Body. It is His Will that every need be supplied. You are important to me.  I need you to survive.

Tragically, even though there are believers who spend time with other Christians, their conversations and behaviors usually don’t reflect an interest in spiritual matters. Consequently, most of these believers rarely focus on their mutual accountability, which primarily is their responsibility to one another—the biblical interdependency that exists within the Body of Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:20-21, 26). This mutual accountability is why it also is heartbreaking that, despite the fact that most Christians attend worship services or Bible studies on a weekly basis, far too many of these believers contribute very little, or nothing at all, toward the relief of the poor.

It is upsetting to see Christians turning to the world to have their needs met, instead of seeking help from Jesus the Christ’s CHURCH. However, the truth of the matter is that most needy people feel more comfortable approaching non-Christians because many non-Christians do not tend to make those in need feel poor, worthless, or lazy.

Even sadder still is it to see Christians drifting away from depending on the Holy Spirit to direct their steps. Still, although many believers know that the Holy Spirit is the One who ministers through them, where helping the needy is concerned, there are materialistically, financially, and/or spiritually “rich” believers who ignore the Holy Spirit’s “provoking,” especially when His “provoking” pertains to His accountability ministries. These “wealthy” believers conveniently decide to forget that they must be good stewards of ALL of the resources that God has given them.

Nevertheless, God’s requirement still stands. Believers, especially wealthy believers, are to do the GOOD works Jesus the Christ expects from them, which includes honoring their responsibility to help those in need. To fulfill their responsibilities, believers must use ALL of the resources that God has given them. Believers also must be careful to give abundantly out of their abundance; they must be careful to share inclusively, never overlooking anyone who is in need; and they must be careful to invest wholeheartedly not only in their own but also in other believers’ spiritual maturity and their heavenly home. These mutually shared Christian responsibilities, thus, are why the Apostle Paul specifically gives instructions to the materialistically, financially, and/or spiritually “rich” believers in the Ephesian church.

The Ephesian church consisted primarily of members from the upper-lower class to the lower-middle class, with a few lower-lower class (destitute, homeless, permanently unemployed) and upper-upper class (high society) members in the mix. The Ephesian well-to-do women and homeowners were considered the “rich church people.” Since the Apostle Paul was concerned about the spiritual state of the Ephesians who were wealthy believers, he instructs these Christians to not put their hope in this world’s wealth, because putting their trust in the world’s wealth will cause them to rely more on their own riches and accomplishments instead of relying on their God.

Indeed, Jesus the Christ makes it clear that no one can serve two masters at the same time, a saying which means that no one could serve money and God simultaneously (cf. Matthew 6:24). The Lord also implies that the security of money in the economy of His day, and in today’s economy, is uncertain. For sure, events and catastrophes, then and now, can take away a person’s worldly wealth in the amount of time that it takes the heart to beat a single heartbeat.

The inability for people to serve two masters and the uncertainty related to money, material goods, and/or worldly status are also why the Apostle Paul warns the Ephesian Christians about relying on their worldly riches and worldly status. He reminds them that their true source of life and wealth is in God and in Him alone. This divine truth is why the apostle warns the “rich” Ephesians that their reliance on their wealth and material possessions, or worldly status, is antithetical to their reliance on God.

Now, monetary gains and material wealth do have their own place in believers’ lives. It even is okay for Christians to strive for money and material possessions, but only so that they can use their wealth and worldly possessions for doing good works! In other words, believers’ Christian living must include practical expressions of generosity, as well as a willingness to share!

Therefore, because the Apostle Paul wants the “rich” Ephesians to have the right perspective on worldly wealth, he tells them that they must use their money and material possessions responsibly, explaining to them that their responsible use of their riches and worldly possessions will earn them spiritual benefits from the treasure that they “lay up” for themselves in Heaven. That is to say, their altruistic sharing and giving will prove that they have a genuine faith in God—prove that they rely on/trust in God. As a result, their generosity and willingness to share will build for them a firm foundation in the Age that is to come.

In 1 Timothy 6:19, the Apostle Paul, then, is building on Jesus the Christ’s teaching about the riches on Earth being nothing in comparison to the riches in heaven. The apostle is telling the “rich” Ephesian Christians that in order for them to be able to claim their spiritual benefits they first must form a healthy attitude of detachment toward their money, material possessions, and worldly status! Apostle Paul makes it clear that until these wealthy believers exchange their worldly riches for spiritual wealth, they will not have any practical evidence (no sharing or giving) that proves they have a new life in Jesus the Christ. Only the believers who fulfill their commitment to a mutual accountability in a caring church will demonstrate the kind of responsible behavior (the building of a firm spiritual foundation) that is representative of their unshakeable certainty in God’s divine promise that their Christian hope for an eternal life is secure.

Because much wealth has been given to just a few people, much is required of them. Moreover, where wealthy believers are concerned, God not only has given them riches but also He has provided many opportunities for these believers to do good works—opportunities that other believers will never have. For sure, it is wealthy Christians’ generosity that God uses the most when He is supplying money, goods, and other blessings to those individuals who have needs. Ultimately, when rich Christians are living a life of righteousness, patience, and love, these believers not only will recognize that they have a responsibility to stewardship but also they will be generous givers.

How rich are you in GOOD works?  Are you laying up any spiritual treasure for the Age that is to come?  Are you being a good steward who responsibly administers the world’s wealth that God has blessed you to have? AMEN.

“Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life” (1 Timothy 6:19, KJV).