A time for holy things

Devotional thoughts for February 2021

(Click here to read Monday Musings ... where I discuss the thinking that led to this article.)

“The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.” (Matthew 26:11, NIV)

Jesus set the expectations for this age: the poor will always be with us. Now, Jesus was not condemning people to poverty by saying this; he was merely commenting on their condition. What’s interesting here is that Jesus did not correct their condition. What’s up with that?

Of all the signs and wonders Jesus performed, he never healed anyone’s poverty. He used a fish to provide the temple tax on one occasion... but that’s as close as he came to increasing anyone’s wealth. The Apostles maintained a small treasury, so they were “on the economy” — just like us — and just like us, they had limited funds.

So, even though he turned some water into wine at the wedding in Cana, and even though he fed thousands of people miraculously — a couple of times! … those were signs. They were not a way of life. Jesus and his disciples were sometimes hungry and sometimes sick. They paid their own way — or they went without! This is another of the ways that Jesus was “one of us.”

You see, Jesus did not merely take on our corporeal form; he also endured our common limitations. I’ve made the argument that Jesus was worse off than many of us; he didn’t own a home — and when he died he owned nothing… not even the clothes on his back.

Did you see what this means? Our Lord died naked and penniless. This makes the idea pitched by prosperity teachers that, “Jesus wants you rich!” preposterous. Jesus does not want you rich; he wants you holy... and living a holy life tends to have a price.

That being said, holiness and wealth are not mutually exclusive. The Bible says that they are “difficult” companions (Matthew 19:24) — not “impossible” ones. So, if you have more possessions than Jesus, he wants you to manage those assets in a way that advances the kingdom of God.

But make no mistake: Jesus wants you — the person that is you — not your assets. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, there is always work for you to do. What you possess is insignificant compared to who you possess — or more to the point — who possesses you.

Now, I don’t want you to get the wrong idea: Jesus doesn’t hate rich people. As with the poor, he was just commenting on the data. But no matter what the data says, no one is off the hook for honoring Jesus. Whether you are rich or poor is not the issue. Jesus himself is the issue. If he is the Son of God, then he should be the first thing we consider when distributing our resources... be they time, money or spiritual and emotional energy.

Okay... so we won’t run out of poor people. But we will run out of opportunities here on earth to honor and glorify Jesus. When Jesus was with us last time, it was he who did the leaving. But the next time, it will be us who leave. With this departure in view, let us be smart about how we spend our remaining time, money and compassion.

(Mainsail Ministries articles often have a preamble where I discuss the thinking that went into them. These are called Monday Musings — and if you haven’t read the one associated with this article — consider doing so at the following link: 20210201 When what you need is not what you expect).

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