Laila and I traveled in the mid-1970’s to a farm owned by a wealthy man. We passed the great mansion with servants and took a lane down toward the barn. We had been asked to visit Pa Burnette. It occurred to us that we may have taken a wrong turn in the twilight of evening as we pulled into an area surrounded by storage buildings, sheds, stables and a milking parlor. Then we saw an elderly white-headed man standing on a porch.
Stopping the car and getting out his gentle voice called “Welcome! Come in.” The steps were boards nailed together taking us up to a porch of common wood unfinished and unpainted. A door was open. He invited us in.
The frame cottage had been built just for him. It was very small with only two rooms. A small room with a small stove, chairs and a lamp. The other room had a bed and not much else.
There was a modest sofa, a rocking chair and another sitting chair. In the middle of the sitting area was a small table with a Bible lying open.
We knew the history of Pa Burnette. As a young man he had been a drunk and was so violent that his children fled and hid when they would see him coming down the road toward home. The children told us the story.
One day they fled to their hiding places but did not hear the normal violence when he entered the home. No cursing. No threatening of wife and children. He had met Jesus and had come home sobered and changed.
He served us refreshments. I asked, “Do you live by yourself?”
His eyes twinkled. He smiled and replied: “No, I am never alone.”
“Oh,” I followed, “Your wife is here?”
“My wife is deceased. But Jesus is always here,” he said so matter-of-factly that it had the profound and unquestionable ring of truth.
More than forty years have passed. When I think of wealthy people I think of Pa Burnette. The big mansion up the lane was not disdained by him. He was happy for others. But he had sufficiency and lived in a house with Jesus present.
Wealth. The Bible has a lot to say about wealth. It is neither good nor evil by definition. The morality of wealth is determined by those who have or have not. What they do with what they have or wish they had either speaks of godly or ungodly wealth.
Poverty that leaves one without basic needs being met and the ability to serve others is not beautiful, nor is it the will of God. The Bible speaks of being so poor that one is tempted to steal.
Having so much that a man lusts after riches is not beautiful. The Bible speaks of riches that can cause a person to forget God.
Proverbs 30:8,9 Give me neither poverty nor riches...Feed me with the food allotted for me. Lest I be full and deny You, and say, "Who is God?" Or lest I be poor and steal, and profane the name of my God.
Abraham tithed and was rich by the favor of God. His son Jacob was faithful to God and wealthy. His son Isaac honored God with his substance and increased in wealth. Job was rich. Joseph of Arimathea was rich and honored God.
Jesus shared of a rich man who needed nothing, but God judged him poor. The "rich" man lifted up his eyes from hell to ask God to send a poor man to warn his family still living on earth (Luke 16:27).
What is wealth? It is having more than what is necessary to live. Why does God bless us with wealth? To have the ability to serve God and others. When is God pleased with our wealth? When we are stewards that invest in the Kingdom of Our Lord Jesus. When is wealth rewarding? When we give or invest it to serve others.
The contented man is wealthy.
Poverty is discontent that leaves one jealous of what others have.
The rich man who thinks he deserves lives in a world doomed to destruction.
Giving is a God characteristic. God in his love gave to us heaven's best. Jesus gave his life for us. We who love God have joy in giving so that we may bless the Church that Christ built.
Nothing we do tells more about our character than how we honor God with the material blessings he has graciously loaned us.
I ask you, Dear Reader, where are you with your wealth? Do you consider yourself poor? Seek wise counsel how to improve your circumstances. You do not want to be a burden to others and have lack ability to materially bless the Kingdom of God.
Are you wealthy? Consider that you have been divinely blessed to have the opportunity to invest in Christ’s command to share the gospel with every nation.
Will you please join with me for God’s favor upon us so that we may be blessed. May our heart’s desire be to live and share of that which God has provided to us in ways that serve our Lord and His Church.
Have you taken inventory of your heart? Are you rich or poor? If poor, what are you doing to change your circumstances? If rich, what are you doing to keep a humble, servant heart and giving attitude with others and as a servant of Christ?
Much love Pastor Bare
Proverbs 3:9-10: Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine.