“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 by his poverty might become rich.”
2 Corinthians 8:9
A casual reading might lead us to think that the Bible is conflicted about riches. On one page we read that we should not trust in riches (Psalm 62:10), on another we read that wealth and riches are in the house of the one who trusts in the Lord (Psalm 112:3). To be rich or not to be rich, that is the question.
The riddle of riches is solved in Jesus Christ. Jesus makes the distinction between two kinds of riches in Matthew 6:19-21. The riches of earth, he says, are subject to decay and destruction. These riches are helpful in providing daily material needs but are not helpful in providing what the soul needs most. These riches can buy food and clothes (for which we are grateful) but cannot buy a right relationship with God and new life in Christ. Material riches are to be tended to carefully but never made to be the highest priority.
The riches of heaven, on the other hand, are secure. They don’t rise or fall with the markets. No one can steal them from the one who possesses them. Exposure to moths and rust is no threat. These are the riches that come to us from God, through Christ, and enrich us with what we most need now and what we will only need in eternity. The riches of heaven are salvation for the soul and its varied benefits.
Seek these riches. Seek them in Jesus Christ.
The Son of God, rich in glory and grace, became poor. His poverty is how we become rich. How so?
He laid aside the riches of heaven to take up the poverty of humanity, humiliation, and the abandonment of the cross when he came to us by the virgin birth. His death on the cross covered our sin and ransomed us from captivity to sin. By grace through faith he brings us out of the poverty of sin and into the riches of a right relationship with God.
The riches of Christ are now ours through faith in him. By faith in him we are rich in heaven. God is our Father, Christ is our Brother, the Spirit is our Helper, the church is our family, and an inheritance and a future home await us.
Tis the season to be concerned with money. For some, gift buying is a major source of anxiety and depression as we are reminded of what we don’t have. Discontentment abounds. For others, extravagance and excess are the temptations of the illusion of store-bought happiness.
Jesus can deliver us from this misplaced love of earthly riches. His rich grace toward us is the only power that expels our love of earthly riches. Seeking first the kingdom of heaven is the replacement for an obsessive pursuit of riches on earth.
What do you plan to do this Christmas season to lay up treasure in heaven? How will you seek the riches of Christ? I suggest you put Christ’s glory and grace before you in the form of reading and hearing his word. Add to that some seasons of prayer in which you think on the riches of salvation. Include other Christians in conversations about Christ. And don’t forget to serve others, because giving to others reminds us that we have something that was given to us.
I hope you will join us Sunday as we hear again of the riches of Christ’s grace.