by RICHARD J. RODAS (Editor-in-Chief)
WE LIVE IN a world where many people are so preoccupied with the acquisition of wealth and making it grow. Their minds are fixated on earthly treasures: money, nice house, fast cars, and exotic vacations which give an impression that life consists of possessions. The ordinary individual seems to have become so fogged up by all the hullabaloo about wealth that he loses the perspective on what’s really important anymore.
Some of the biggest selling books, countless seminars, and TV programs are predicated on how to be rich through “investments” in stocks, gold, paintings, bonds, cash equivalents, financial derivatives (i.e futures or options), foreign asset denominated in foreign currency, and many more.
Indeed, to say that today’s world is caught up with materialism is an understatement. It seems man cannot get enough of cars, boats, expensive toys, wardrobes, jewelries, etc. – that it now comes to the point that he must have them to be happy. Others who don’t have riches just borrow to the max and spend anyway to have those fancy things now.
Is God against wealth and possessions? No. The Holy Scriptures are replete with examples of God’s people blessed with ample possessions in life: Abraham, Isaac, David, Solomon, Job, to name a few. But no man must think that these are the aim of and what give meaning to life. No less than the Lord Jesus Christ taught about “investment options” to men as well as the entailing “risk” which is the biggest thing to consider when making any investment at all, thus: “Don’t store up treasures here on earth where they can erode away or may be stolen. Store them in heaven where they will never lose their value, and are safe from thieves … You cannot serve two masters: God and money. For you will hate one and love the other, or else the other way around” (Matt. 6:19-20, 24, Living Bible).
The Lord Jesus presented two types of “treasure” or investment: earthly and heavenly. The sad thing is, many people today are engrossed with no other purpose than that of accumulating earthly treasures. How risky is that? In the field of finance and economics they usually ask: Is it investment grade? Or is it junk?
The Savior made it clear that as far as “heaven” or eternity is concerned, all worldly investments are poor choices. Hence, His unambiguous admonition: is that we should store up treasures not here on earth but in heaven. There is no truly rock-solid safe investment in this wicked and materialistic world. Thieves, both white collar or blue collar, are so plenty here on earth. Truly very frustrating for anyone to spend all his life working to make money and buy valuable things out of them only to have some crooks steal them all away from him.
Conversely, the amazing thing about storing up treasure in heaven is that they are totally free from all manner of corruption and theft – this makes them the best investment. Treasures in heaven are the only safe investment for eternity. Spending time, energy and effort for them will never be in vain.
Jesus emphasized that you cannot serve two masters: God and money. Man must learn then how to use money and earthly possessions righteously and make certain they are not his master and they have no rule over him.
To devote all time and efforts to the things that concern this life only is very risky and futile for: “How frail is humanity! How short is life, and how full of trouble! Like a flower, we blossom for a moment and then wither. Like the shadow of a passing cloud, we quickly disappear. … You have decided the length of our lives. You know how many months we will live, and we are not given a minute longer” (Job 14:1-2, 5, New Living Translation).
The quality of man’s life in the world is “short” and “full of trouble”. The frailty and shortness of his existence are compared to how a flower blossoms for a moment but soon withers or to how a passing cloud quickly disappears – not perpetual nor everlasting.
The frustrations, worries, and heartaches that people commonly experience in this world are articulated by a servant of God, thus: “You work and worry your way through life, and what do you have to show for it? As long as you live, everything you do brings nothing but worry and heartache. Even at night your mind can’t rest. It is useless. You work for something with all your wisdom, knowledge, and skill, and then you have to leave it all to someone who hasn’t had to work for it. It is useless, and it isn’t right!” (Eccles. 2:22-23, 21, Today’s English Version).
How often does man’s search for satisfaction turn into emptiness and despair? He spends all his life searching for wisdom, knowledge, wealth, and skill, only to leave all of it to someone who hasn’t done a day’s work in his life – to inherit all his efforts, free of charge. Foolish and unfair? Likely so. That’s why the Bible illustrates the sad condition of man’s life here on earth as being under a cloud – gloomy, much sorrow, sickness, and filled with frustration (Eccles. 5:17).
Despite this reality, many people still strive and devote most of their time and effort to amassing earthly treasures, not realizing that they will leave this world just as they entered it – with nothing. There is nothing everyone can take with him in the grave (Eccles. 5:15).
Moreover, reality vividly displays all the oppressions and sadness throughout the earth – the tears of the oppressed, and no one helping them, while on the side of the oppressors are powerful allies (Eccles. 4:1).
For these reasons, God commanded that the present heavens and earth be reserved for fire on Judgment Day when all ungodly men will perish, the earth and everything on it will be burned up (II Pet. 3:7, 10, Living Bible). All the earthly treasures that man has labored for all his life will be of no value, nor will it save him or his loved ones, on Judgment Day (Zep. 1:14-16, 18).
Hence, man must be delivered from the power of darkness in this world and be transferred into the kingdom of the Son, if he is to have any hope of salvation, thus: “Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:12-14, New King James Version).
What a great blessing to be rescued from the darkness and gloom of Satan’s kingdom and be brought into the Kingdom of the Son or the Lord Jesus Christ, Who bought man’s freedom with His blood so as to gain the forgiveness of all his sins.
It must be pointed out, though, that the sole beneficiaries of the Savior’s redemptive blood are those who are in the “flock” or the members of the Church of Christ (Acts 20:28, Lamsa Translation).
Within the Church of Christ, man can dutifully begin to “store up for themselves a treasure” as Apostle Paul testifies: “Command them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share with others. In this way they will store up for themselves a treasure which will be a solid foundation for the future. And then they will be able to win the life which is true life” (I Tim. 6:18-19, TEV).
True Christians understand that they cannot pay with earthly treasures their way into heaven. But they must ready to share with others their faith that more people may serve and glorify God. They also must be rich in good works, to be generous in giving offerings for all these are spiritual investments or ways of storing up for themselves a solid foundation for attaining eternal life. The same is true for those who do not neglect or forsake the assembling together or congregational worship services (Heb. 10:25-27).
They may still be living in a world consumed by wickedness and earthly concerns, but they will not allow sin to entangle them or hold them back in their sincere desire to reach God’s kingdom (Heb. 12:1). So, they put away the “earthly desires” such as “sexual immorality, indecency, lust, evil passions, and greed.” Likewise, they “get rid of all these things: anger, passion, and hateful feelings. No insults, or obscene talk” so as not to incur God’s anger and punishment (Col. 3:5-6, 8-9, TEV).
Truly, they “continue to endure and believe through all the persecutions and sufferings [they] are experiencing. All of this proves that God’s judgment is just and as a result [they] will become worthy of his Kingdom, for which [they] are suffering” (II Thess. 1:4-5, Ibid., emphasis ours).
(Source: EDITORIAL SECTION OF IGLESIA NI CRISTO [CHURCH OF CHRIST] PASUGO: God’s Message, March 2013 Edition, Volume 65, Number 3, ISSN 0116-1636, pages 1 and 2)
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