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Friday, September 13, 2013

Working to Be Rich or Rich in God.

2 Corinthians 8:9  (NIV)
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

Mud is far from desirable. It clings to everything -- pants, socks shoes -- making it hard to even enjoy going for a walk. Imagine living in the mud!

This happened at Pithole, Pennsylvania. In 1865, due to the exploitation of the oil found there, Pithole was built so quickly that no one ever stopped to consider the potential mess that could transpire where so many buildings were being built in such close proximity to so many oil wells. Oil tends to leak, and in fact, it leaked quite a bit that year! You see, everyone in Pithole wanted to become rich fast, and in order to do so, everyone cut corners to achieve their "All American" dream! Before they knew it, they had a muddy mess on their hands, and it didn't help that the pouring rain also factored itself into the equation.

Still the inhabitants didn't want to waste any time from becoming rich, so in order to remedy their immediate problem they threw some planks down here and there so that pedestrians, horses and wagons wouldn't disappear into the mud! Soon however, these planks had to be replaced, for they, too, were being swallowed whole by the vicious, clingy, oily stuff.

It wasn't long before everyone was covered from head to toe with the oily mess, and it soon became difficult to recognize people. Not that this mattered, for with all the rush to get rich, there was absolutely no time to get to know anyone anyway! No one, in fact, could even be distinguished as being rich or poor, for everyone, rich and poor alike, was covered from head to toe by smelly mud! Ummm! The smell of becoming rich!

A story soon became famous. A stranger, who had just arrived in town, noticed a muddy hat on the muddy street. He couldn't stop himself from kicking it. A rush of swear words resulted, from way under the ground: "That is my head in the hat mister. Who do you think you are, kicking me so viciously? You better not kick me again…

The stranger peered down in dismay and said "You are being buried alive! You're covered with mud!"

The muddy guy answered: "Never mind! I've got a mule under me and he's got to the second sand rock."

Too often the rich face a muddy mess. It may not always be as oily as Pithole, but muddy it still is!

"I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing." (Revelation 3:17a, NIV2)

This person sure seems presumptuous! He has achieved success, his needs are completely unknown, and abundance surrounds him. He truly has achieved the All American dream!

In all reality though, this verse refers to a certain kind of believer, a believer who thinks he has it made. Notice how the text continues... "But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked." (Revelation 3:17b, NIV2)

Wait a minute! How is that possible? If we have it made spiritually, shouldn't we at least celebrate?

The apostle Paul sheds some light onto this: "If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing." (1 Corinthians 13:2-3, NIV2)

Believers who think they have it made are the ones who truly have achieved nothing at all! They are the ones who are spiritually poor to the extreme! Yes, they may have the gift of the Holy Spirit, but that doesn't mean they have it made! Yes they may have an amazing kind of faith, but even that is not an opportunity for celebration! Yes, they may give to their heart's content, but even that can be meaningless! If there is no love in what we do, we have become spiritually bankrupt!

Some will realize this a little too late, just like that man on his mule in the mud! "Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" (Matthew 7:22-23, NIV2)

Love is what unites us with God and our fellow human beings. We were created to love, not to indulge in luxury! "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." (1 John 4:7-8, NIV2)

Dear Lord, thank You for Your love. Help us be more concerned about showing Your love then gathering the riches of this world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

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