Rich Beyond Measure
When we think of “rich” our mind often gravitates toward financial wealth and possessions, which many believe leads to happiness and satisfaction. Yet, we all know people who are wealthy by the world’s standards but also downright miserable. Conversely, we can probably name others who have very little in terms of worldly riches but are happy and content. I dare say many of the latter are Christian educators. Financial wealth is definitely not a motivator for anyone choosing education as a profession.
As Christians, we know that worldly wealth does not bring happiness. True joy and peace (i.e., spiritual riches) only come to those who are alive in Christ. So why then are so many Christians living as if they are paupers?
Have you ever known anyone that was blessed beyond measure but lacked joy and contentment? It is really easy to see that in others, but God caused me to make personal application this week as I was reading in the book of Ephesians. The commentary in my Bible noted that Paul was writing to a group of believers who were rich beyond measure in Jesus Christ, yet they were living as beggars. They needed to be reminded of the “wealth” that is so freely given when we are in Christ. Apparently, I needed the same reminder.
Our culture is based on an “earn it” mentality. In other words, you don’t get a reward unless you work for it. It is so incredibly easy to fall into this trap as a Christian. We live as paupers because we think we have to earn God’s goodies. However, since we fail so often, we assume we are spiritually poor. Nothing could be further from the truth. I love how the Amplified Version clears up this misperception.
For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God. Ephesians 2:8
John Piper so eloquently says, “Grace is not a response to OUR initiative.” We don’t have to “earn” anything. But wait, it gets better. If we glance back at the verses preceding Ephesians 2:8, we find so much more!
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2: 4-7
I could fill up pages and pages of Scripture that describe the riches that God wants to pour out on believers. Jesus said, “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows]. John 10:10
Why, then, do so many Christians (me included) often find ourselves living as spiritual paupers? I’m not sure. I imagine the answer is different for all of us. However, as I reflected on this matter, I thought of few possible reasons (not excuses) we need to face head on.
· Could it be an issue of belief? We intellectually “know” what God says in His Word, but we struggle with believing it is true. If that is the case for you, know that you are not alone. I would encourage you to cry out to Jesus like the father did in Mark 9:23-24.
And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.”
Jesus showed up then, and He will show up now.
· Could it be an issue of disobedience? Has God placed a calling on your heart that you are simply ignoring or putting off? If so, write down the calling. Tell Him your fears. Ask Him for wisdom to take the first step of faith. Don’t worry about making a mistake. He is big enough to cover you. (Hebrews 11:6)
· Could it be an issue of unconfessed sin? Is there an area of your life that you have been holding onto? You know deep down He knows, but you haven’t been able to bring yourself to the place of confession—just laying it all out there, ugliness and all. Don’t forget! Christ died for YOU. When you have accepted Him as your Savior, your sin was covered. You don’t have to live in a place of defeat. (Romans 8:1-18)
· Could it be an issue of shame? Maybe you have confessed your past sin, but you are struggling to let it go. You struggle to see yourself as Jesus sees you. I’m sure Peter struggled with this same issue. But in John 21, Jesus basically says, “That was then; this is now.” Forgiveness trumps failure. Don’t let Satan steal your riches.
· Could it be an issue of forgetfulness? Have you been spending time with God in His Word? If not, it is easy to forget that you have been blessed with EVERY spiritual blessing! You are chosen, forgiven and sealed! (Ephesians 1: 3-8). Get back in God’s Word, and God’s riches will overflow.
One word of caution. As God showers us with spiritual blessings, it is always good to heed Paul’s words in I Corinthians 15:10.
But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.
Riches await you, my friend. Work hard but know there is nothing to EARN. When we are alive in Christ, we are rich. When we are rich, we have much to share. Let’s share the wealth so the world can experience what it feels like to be rich beyond measure.