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The Danger of An Easy Life

Last week, we talked about how men seem to be searching for something in this life. The problem they have is identifying what they’re looking for and then, should they ever kind of figure out what it is they’re looking for, they have a hard time figuring out how to find it. And I want to stay on track with this topic this morning, but maybe kind of approach it a little differently. I want to share with you a quote that I share quite often but I think it’s a powerful quote, but I want to use it in a little different application this morning and it’s a quote from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. I don’t know how familiar you are with him; he won a Pulitzer Prize for literature a number of years ago, he gave that famous but very controversial commencement address at Harvard back in 1978, called “A World Split Apart.” He spent eight years of his life in a Russian prison because he’d written some disparaging words about Joseph Stalin, and he went into prison as an atheist. He came out eight years later as a Christian and when he came out, instead of being an angry bitter man, he shared these words. He says, “I bless you prison. I bless you for being in my life, for there lying on rotting prison straw, I learned that the object of life was not prosperity as I had grown up believing, but it is the maturing of the soul.”

I love that quote for all kinds of reasons, but one of the things I want to home in is on that phrase, “the object of life.” Have you ever stopped and examined your own life and asked yourself this, what is the object of life? What is it that I am actually living for?

You know, the Trappist monk, Thomas Merton, said this, he said, you know, “if you really want to know a man, if you really want to know what he’s like, If you really want to know what’s at the core of his being, find out what he’s living for.

Now, you know, it struck me that, for people who might be, say, living in Iraq, or even worse, living in, say, the Sudan, the object of life is just to make it another day. But what about us who live in probably the most prosperous country, the most prosperous place in the history of the world. Now what happens to our lives? What happens as we consider the object of life? Well, Jesus, I think, gives us some good insight on this in a real short parable. It’s one of my favorite parables that He has given us from the New Testament, the 12th chapter of Luke (Luke 12), and it’s about a businessman. And listen to these words.

He told them a parable saying, the land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, thinking to himself, what shall I do since I have no place to store my crops? Then he said, this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to tear down all my barns and I’m going to build larger ones. And there I’ll store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to my soul, soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come. Take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said to him, you fool, this very night, your soul is required of you, and now who will own what you’ve prepared. So is the man who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich towards God.

You know, it strikes me in this parable, the idea of building a bigger barn for a person who’s being very productive is really not a bad thing. It’s kind of like a business that’s flourishing and trying to meet the demand of all their customers, and they realize they can’t and so they build a bigger plant or bigger facility to meet those needs. So, just the idea of building a bigger barn is not that big of a deal. In fact, it could be a very good thing. The problem is, is the heart that’s behind the action. It’s the intent of the heart that Jesus seems to have a problem with. And it’s also important to note, you know, the guy, this is only a parable I realize, but you don’t see a guy go out and build a bigger barn. What you see is a man planning his future and he’s dreaming and inspiring of what he hopes to happen in the future, which is so much like us today. We’re always living in the future and not in the now. We talked about that last week. We’re so future oriented, we never really live.

But what does this man ultimately desire? I think this is the heart of the issue that God seems to take up with him is in verse 19, where he says, once I have all these things, we live like that. Once I have this, then I can say to my soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come. Now, listen to this. Now you can live life easy and you can eat and you can drink and you can have fun. You see, that’s what the object of life was for this man. And obviously, Jesus was not real impressed because He says to him, you fool, you’re just a fool. And really, to get at the heart of this, I think you see what God reveals in the heart of man who lives in prosperity from Revelation 3:17.

He says, because you say to yourself, I am rich, I become wealthy and I have need of nothing, even God, but what you don’t know, what you don’t realize. And this is what Jesus is really saying in this is that you are spiritually wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.

The heart of this parable is you’re a fool if you are wealthy in the things of this world, but you’re spiritually bankrupt. And so again, this morning, I would ask the question, what is the object of life? When you look out into the future, as this man was doing in this parable, what are you hoping to accomplish in your own life? I mean, isn’t there something within us all, that’s like this guy in the parable, you know, where we can accumulate enough where, you know, we don’t have any worries or cares or pressure. And, you know, we can have a life of ease and all the pleasurable things we want. I mean, here in America, isn’t that for most people, isn’t that the object of life?

You know, it seems to me that the number one goal of most white-collar men in America when they reach middle age is early retirement, early retirement. I remember Fortune Magazine had a special issue and it was, and on this issue, these guys know how to sell magazines, I’m telling you, they have all these gold coins stacked up and bars of gold and the title right across the front of the magazine is “Retire Early and Rich.” I mean, they know how to get you. They know how to get to you. They know how to sell magazines. They know how to punch your hot button.

And to be quite honest, there’s nothing wrong if you get to a point where you can retire early. It’s what you do with the time after you retire, because see, that’s the problem. I think what really drives this longing for early retirement is we want what this man in Luke 12 wants. I can say to my soul, ah, you’re secure now. You can live a life of ease. And let me just say this. The Bible talks at length about the dangers that go with this type of life. In fact, what’s interesting is that humanity seems to have longed for this throughout the ages. And I’m going to point this out to you in just a few examples out of the Old Testament. But what’s interesting. I would just say this. It’s not so much that I think prosperity corrupts men. It’s what prosperity makes available to us that potentially can corrupt us.

Now, this first little thought I want to share with you is quite staggering. If I asked any of you, what was, if you could describe back in the Old Testament, depending on how well you know the Old Testament, the city of Sodom, most people would say Sodom is a place of just incredible sexual perversity. It’s where we get the word sodomy from. But it’s interesting in the book of Ezekiel, we’re told what the real root problem was underlying Sodom. It was manifest in its sexual perversity but listen to these words from Ezekiel 16. It says, behold; this was the guilt of your sister Sodom. This was the problem of Sodom. She and her daughters were arrogant, but listen to this, they had abundant food and they had careless ease, but she didn’t help the poor and the needy, and thus they were haughty and committed abominations before me and therefore I removed them when I saw it. Matthew Henry, in commenting on these two verses says, “an idle life of ease is like standing water. It very quickly becomes stagnant and filthy.”

Let me give you another good example of this. It’s in the book of Daniel. King Nebuchadnezzar, very powerful Babylonian king. And right in the fourth chapter of Daniel, he tells us the heart of Nebuchadnezzar’s real problem. And one of the things about Nebuchadnezzar you see is that though he was a very arrogant and pompous king, he continually showed signs of wanting to follow David’s God. But this, I think, was what the heart of one of his real problems was. I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at ease in my house, and I was flourishing in my palace. And then he has this dream, and he turns to Daniel to interpret the dream. And Daniel tells him, he warns him. He says, therefore, king, let me give you my advice and may it be pleasing to you. Break away now from your sins by doing righteousness and from your iniquities and show mercy to the poor in case there might be a prolonging of your prosperity. But it says 12 months later, Nebuchadnezzar is walking on the roof of his royal palace of Babylon and tell me if you don’t think this is the heart of men, and he doesn’t say this out loud, it says, he reflects to himself and says, he’s looking at his great kingdom, and he says, is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty. I mean, that is right there, it is the height of arrogance, and nobody would ever say that out loud, you wouldn’t think, but that was going on in his heart. That’s what he was thinking about. All of his great accomplishments; look how wonderful I am. And then if you know the rest of the story, God, he loses everything. He goes mad and he loses it all.

I think probably the best example of what we’re talking about is in the life of David. And let me just read this really quickly. This is after David has become king, very powerful, a life of ease. And it says it happened, all of this happened in the spring. And it was a time when a king should be out at battle with his men, but not David. It says David instead sent Joab and his servants with him and all of Israel and they went out to war, and they destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David didn’t go. It says he stayed in Jerusalem in his palace. And when evening had come, David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the King’s house. And from the roof, he saw a woman bathing and the woman was very beautiful in appearance. So, David sent in and inquired about the woman. And of course, this was Bathsheba. And you know the rest of the story, probably he sends for her, I mean, she has to come, he’s the king. He has sexual relations with her, and then he finds out later she’s pregnant. So what does David do? He conceives another plan. He says, bring her husband Uriah to me. Now Uriah is a great warrior. He’s off at battle. They bring him in, David gets him drunk, and then says, now I want you to go home and be with your wife, but Uriah, who is a man of honor and virtue says, I can’t go home. My men are out fighting a battle. I can’t go home. And when David realizes that his plan is foiled, what does he do? He sends a note. He says, take this note with you and Uriah takes it to, I think to Joab and the note says, put Uriah on the front lines where he’ll surely be killed. And he is. And then David is free to marry Bathsheba. But again, most of you know the rest of the story. He’s confronted by Nathan; he’s humbled, but the consequences of what he did is horrendous and brings an incredible amount of pain into his life. Now, David should have been with his army, fulfilling his duty, but instead he preferred a life of ease in his comfortable palace. You know, here he was a king and a warrior with a responsibility to fulfill. Instead, he chose idleness.

Alan Redpath, who’s written a book on the life of David says, “Here, you see the consequences of an indulgent life of leisure hours, and a slackness in the life of David.” You also see this consistently in the lives of the nation of Israel, the Jews. In Deuteronomy 32, it talks about how God cared for them in the wilderness and how difficult and the hardship they had and how they depended on Him, and they lived in relationship with God and then they get to the promised land, and in Deuteronomy 32:15, it talks about it. But they get to a point, it says they’re fat and they’re sleek and they’re living a life of ease and consequently, they forsake their God.

And I guess the question this morning, I want to know, could this happen to us? Could this happen in our lives? Consider the dangers that we just read about. Consider what the Scripture reveals for us as Christians as we seek to walk with God and represent Him in the world. But one of the greatest dangers of prosperity and a life of ease is we lose our burden and compassion for people. Both Sodom and Nebuchadnezzar, God reprimands them for not caring for the poor; totally uninterested in them. And yet, David, look at him; he had no regard for the life of Bathsheba or the life of her husband. He used them for his own indulgence. I mean, what an incredible change that had taken place in this man’s life. Here was a guy who’s described in his early life as a man after God’s own heart, a very godly man, a fearless warrior, truly connected with God and look what happened to him. Could that happen to us?

You know, it’s interesting, Francis Schaffer, who I consider a real prophet, who’s deceased now, but in the last century, I would consider him one of the most intelligent, brilliant Christian men. He was kind of a philosopher. And yet, some would call him as a prophet because he wrote that, he wrote this wonderful book, How Should We Then Live: The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture. And I happened to hear him in Atlanta back in 1977. And he presented a bunch of films on this book and he answered questions. But at the end of the book, he says, this was his prediction in 1977. This is when the book came out. He says, I believe the church in the future will be ineffective. They’ll lose their effectiveness because of what he called two impoverished values that are creeping into the life of the people of God. He says, one is affluence. And the other is personal peace. And listen to what personal peace is, the way he describes it. “Personal peace means just to be let alone, not to be troubled by the troubles of other people, whether they live across the world or across the city or across the street. It means to live one’s life with minimal possibilities of being personally disturbed. Personal peace means wanting to have my personal life pattern undisturbed in my lifetime, regardless of what the result will be in the lifetimes of my children and my grandchildren.”

You know, I’m not sure if this is true, I’ve heard this said, but many people believe that one of the ways you can gauge where you are spiritually is by the compassion that you have for the lost or the hurting or the disadvantaged or the poor. In fact, Jesus says, you know, the world is full of these folks, always will be. He says, the poor will always be with you. There’ll always be people who are spiritually lost. There’ll always be. And he says, in Matthew 9 he says, the harvest, guys, is plentiful. It’s plentiful. The problem is the workers are few, but you know what’s interesting. He never says why the workers are few, but I think we know. I think we know. I think what we’re talking about is kind of at the heart of it. I want to be left alone. I don’t want to be involved with anybody else’s life. I want to be left alone so I can pursue this life of ease. I can pursue what I want for me.

So that’s the first danger is that you become very narcissistic and self-absorbed, that’s what you see I think in the guy in the parable. I want a life where I can sit back and have my ease and eat and have a good time. But the second danger is, and you clearly see it in the Scripture we looked at, is an immoral lifestyle. I mean, look at the people of Sodom. Daniel talks about to Nebuchadnezzar, your unrighteous life. And then look at David, look at the Israelites.

There’s an interesting book, Bob Buford’s third book called Stuck in Halftime, and he shares this thought and it’s a pretty scary thought. “Rogers Kirvin,” who is a friend of his, “was about to cash out his successful business. It would give him enough money so that he’d never have to work for the rest of his life. Rogers had worked extremely hard to get to this enviable position and he wanted to reward himself. He envisioned the life of his dreams, more time with his wife and family, never having to start each day with a trip to the office, and most of all, freedom. The day was almost there when all he had to do was sign his name and he’d have enough cash to do whatever he wanted to for the rest of his life. But for some reason, just before he was to close the deal, he decided to celebrate with two long time buddies who had sold their companies a few years earlier, they met at a restaurant in Washington, DC and very soon into the conversation, Rogers began to get nervous. The first thing they told me is that they had new wives. Kirvin said I’ve known one of them for 15 years, the other for seven years and both of them had cashed out to spend more time with their families. He said, the conversation never got much beyond their toys and leisure activities and the more they talked, the more terrified Rogers became. Instead of being excited about their lives, they seemed confused and disconnected. Still wondering what to do with their lives. Probably still wondering what’s the object of life. There was a creeping sensation of uh-oh. Something has happened to my friends on the way out of the restaurant, Rogers was still looking for confirmation from them that cashing out to leisure world was the best thing they had ever done. But when he asked one of the guys, an active Christian, that exact question, all he got in return was, you know, I just don’t know. I just don’t know.” Listen to this, it is fascinating.

“Rogers then decided to track down every person he could find who in search of a better life had cashed in seeking relief from first half pressures. When last I talked to him, he had found and interviewed 36 men who between the ages of 40 and 50 had turned their businesses into at least 5 million dollars. This certainly isn’t a statistically projectable sample, but I find it at least at the very least an interesting and instructive window into the American dream. So how did it turn out? The first three guys I talked to were just like me, Rogers told me. They loved God. They loved their families and were in the same age bracket. One was 42, 43, and 44. They all had a strategy. They wanted to spend more time with their families and develop their own souls. Within a year, all three were divorced. All three blew at least a million dollars on new toys, bigger boat, bigger car, bigger plane. They all thought they had a solid game plan. But like Mike Tyson said about his boxing foes, they all had a strategy until they got hit. Each of these guys stepped into a stream and they didn’t realize the current was so strong until they got swept away. Of the 36 guys he interviewed, a remarkable 32 had gotten divorced. All of them locked their targets on a new toy or affair, but experienced tremendous depression after acquiring each new thing. What seemed like paradise turned out to be just the opposite. These guys tried what most of us would say is the ideal arrangement. Money is no object. You don’t have to go to work. You can travel. You can play, you can buy all you want. You can do nothing. And instead of waiting until these guys were too old to enjoy their freedom, they did it while they were quite young. And yet somehow it just didn’t pan out the way they thought it would.”

So, in one sense, I think you see this erosion of character and then the final danger, and I don’t have time to spend much on it, so I’m just going to mention it. You know, I think a life of ease leads to a life that is called hedonistic. It’s dominated by pleasure. As technology guru George Gilbert said, and he spoke of this as he was talking about the massive accumulation of wealth in the last few decades. He made this assessment. He’s talking about, I think, the Christian community, he says, “achieving prosperity without becoming a hedonist will entail heroic leadership and courage.” And what he’s saying is, you know, hedonism, by the way, is the where pleasure is the chief end of life. He says it is very difficult to be very prosperous and very wealthy and not become hedonistic. He says it requires great courage. Not saying you can’t do it, but it requires great courage.

So, the question is with the 15 minutes left, what do you do? What do we do? We live in all this prosperity, you know, we’re all working, or have businesses or whatever we’re doing and what do we do, particularly if we do well, we strive for excellence. We do well in what we do. What do we do? What happens? Well, I think a starting place is to go back to where we were last week, the application, as we examine the life of C.S. Lewis. You know, he had it right. He had his life together. He lived life to the fullest, I believe, based on what I’ve read in the three books of his life that I’ve read in the last year or so. He had a high quality of life. And what we looked at last week were three factors. The first was he had a totally surrendered life. His life was totally surrendered to Christ. And it was a time when he was, I mean, the money from his books was really starting to flow in and he lives his life with a sense of mission, a sense of calling, God has something he wants to do in and through my life. So, all the money he had was not a distraction. And he invested diligently in his relationships with others. Money meant very little to him. Relationships meant everything to him.

But as I was preparing this morning, I thought of a proverb from the book of Proverbs that has been meaningful to me and is a good way for us to consider this application that I want to share with you. And ironically, the proverb is mentioned twice, which seems to me to say, that must be important. The same proverb is mentioned twice. It’s Proverbs 14:12 and Proverbs 16:25 and the exact same wording. And it goes like this. There is a way, which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. Now let me tell you what he’s saying here. He says, there is a path of life that seems very natural, that seems very good, that seems very right, that we should go down. The problem is that he says, what we often don’t realize, it will lead to our ruin. And so, I think in one sense, that’s what Jesus was saying to this man in this parable, you know, it seemed reasonable for him to say, I’m going to tear down my barns. I’m going to build big ones. I’m going to have all this wealth and security. And then I can sit back and have a life of ease and eat, drink, and be merry. And that seems to be a good thing, but there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end could lead to ruin and destruction. And that’s what we don’t want to happen in our lives because I’m sure that Nebuchadnezzar and David, right when they became powerful Kings, I’m sure they never dreamed it would corrupt their lives and lead to such pain and heartache. Never dreamed it would happen to them. But you know the good news about both of them? And this could be true of us, regardless of what’s happened in our lives up to now. They both finished strong. They both that they ended their lives strong.

Now I say that. We don’t really see the end of Nebuchadnezzar’s life, but that’s, you know, as I said this morning, that should be the desire for every single one of us, is that we finish this life, and we finish strong.  Let me just say this. I think they both were covered and finished strong because their perspective on wealth and prosperity was transformed. And let me show you what happened in their lives. This won’t take but a second. In Nebuchadnezzar’s life, like I said, in fact, God had said, listen, Nebuchadnezzar, you’re going to be removed from power and you will be out of power until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and He bestows it on whomever He wishes. And for a long period of time, Nebuchadnezzar went mad. He looked like an animal out in the forest, but it says, at the end of a period of time, he says, I, Nebuchadnezzar, I raise my eyes towards heaven and my reason returned to me. And I blessed the Most High and I praised and honored Him who lives forever for His dominion is an everlasting dominion and His kingdom endures from generation to generation. He goes on to say, my reason returned to me, my majesty and my splendor were restored to me. And then he says, now I, Nebuchadnezzar, and these are the last words we have recorded from Nebuchadnezzar, now I, Nebuchadnezzar, I praise, exalt and honor the King of Heaven for all His works are true and His ways are just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride. You see, Nebuchadnezzar was transformed from a pompous arrogant king and a very humble man who recognized that his position and his wealth was from the hand of God. And he was grateful. His life was transformed. He finished strong.

Now listen to the last words of David from I Chronicles, chapter 29. Now David also finished strong. This is the chapter where he dies. And right before he dies, he gathers all the people together. And listen to these words, they’re powerful and very instructive. Look at the heart of David and contrast it with the man who used this woman, had this man killed, listen to David. I Chronicles 29:10.

So, David, with all the people, he blessed the Lord in the sight of all the assembly. And David said, blessed are you, oh Lord God of Israel, our Father forever and ever. Yours, oh Lord is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth. Yours is the dominion oh Lord and you exalt yourself as head overall, both riches and honor come from you. And you rule overall and in your hand is power and might and it lies in your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone. Now, therefore our God, we thank you and we praise your glorious name. He goes on to say, for all things come from you, it’s from your hand and everything is yours and we give back to you what you have given to us.

Now, David clearly recognized that all that he had in this life was from the hand of God and he says, and we thank you and bless your glorious name. You see a humility, but you also see a real gratitude. Listen to what G.K. Chesterton says. “To be thankful is the highest form of thought and gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. Thanklessness then must be the lowest form of thought and ingratitude ultimately is discontentment and life is bankrupt of wonder.” When you have no gratitude in your life.

Dr. Hans Selye was the true pioneer in discovering the impact of emotions on a person’s health. And he said he wrote 30 books on the subject. And well, over a hundred thousand articles are published about the stress syndrome, which he first described in 1936. And as Selye summarized his research at the end of his life, I mean, this man has spent all this time looking at human emotions and the impact on our lives, and he says this, “Vengeance and bitterness and anger are the emotional responses most likely to produce high levels of stress and unhealthiness in human beings. Conversely, gratitude is the single response that’s most nourishing to a person’s life.” Think about that.

You know, I’ve spent a great deal of time studying the issue of gratitude and I’ve concluded this, guys, thanksgiving and having a grateful heart is not only pleasing to God, but it impacts us spiritually. It impacts our souls. It impacts who we are. And again, you see that clearly in David’s life, as it comes to an end. Conversely, to live with an ungrateful heart, I believe puts us at great peril spiritually. Now I went and I looked up all the verses that I could find on the issue of in gratitude, ungrateful, to not be thankful. And I have to tell you this, I was stunned at what I saw. I was stunned at how God perceives ungratefulness. In Luke 6:35, he talks about God is even, it says, Jesus says, God is even kind to the ungrateful and evil people. Now it kind of stunned me that, how could you link up ungrateful and evil? Yet, that’s what God did.

And then in II Timothy 3, Paul speaks of ungodly, worldly, evil people. And he says, they’re treacherous, they’re arrogant, they love themselves, and they’re ungrateful. And again, I would never, treacherous and ungrateful? Ungrateful, I understand that, but I wouldn’t think it’s that big of a deal. And yet God puts it in there with the treacherous and the wicked. And to really get a good understanding of this is in Romans 1 where Paul speaks of the path that leads to unbelief and godliness. And he says, this is the way it happens in a person’s life. He says for since the creation of the world, God’s invisible attributes, his eternal power, his divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood through what’s been made so that human beings are without excuse. He goes on to say, but even though they knew God, they knew he existed. They didn’t honor him as God Or give him thanks. And they became futile in their thinking and their foolish heart was darkened. And then he paints a picture of how they slide into the abyss but look where it starts. They didn’t honor Him as God or give Him thanks. The bottom line, guys, is gratitude is linked to godlessness and evil and can lead us down this slippery slope into the abyss.

For this reason, and I would just say this with all sincerity, the importance of this in my own life, for this reason every morning, I spend time in prayer thanking God, let me just say this, specifically, not generally, not saying Lord, thank you for blessing my life, but going through and specifically thanking Him really and like acknowledging all that I am, all that I have truly comes from You. And I thank Him for all the wonderful gifts He’s poured into my life. And I try to, during the course of the day, to be cognizant of, and to give thanks just real quickly and hopefully it’s pleasing to Him, but I can truly say this, this practice, this discipline, this spiritual discipline has had a major impact on my spiritual life.

Now, before we close, I need to make one other observation about David. And, I don’t have much time, but let me just before wrapping it up, just say, you know, in verse 16 in I Chronicles, he says, all of my wealth, these are his words, it’s from your hand and it’s all yours. See, David’s recognized this, the material possessions he had, he says, Lord, these are yours. They’re not mine. They’re yours.

You know, in Psalm 50:12, it says, the world is mine and all that it contains. Question is, do we believe that? Let me ask you this. Do you believe everything you have; do you believe it could be taken away from you? You know, it could. If nothing else, your life could be taken from you, but it could. And David says, you know, all that I have is yours. This is where the idea of stewardship comes from. You see, David realizes that God owns everything, and He entrusts His resources to us. And we’re told to be productive with those resources and manage them well. We’re in one sense, we’re kind of like a money manager, but this is the big question. Are we managing the money we’ve been entrusted in a way that is in line with the purpose of the owner? In other words, what I’m doing with my resources, is it pleasing to Him? Is it pleasing to the owner? Any good money manager, that’s what he’s trying to do is to please the owner.

You know, Jesus speaks of stewardship often, and He always does it in the form of parables, like the parable of the talent. And in every one of these parables, every parable ends with the owner coming back and the steward having to give an account, there’s always an account, which seems to indicate you and I will be required to give an account of what we’ve done with the resources that we’ve been given. And he says clearly, he gives some a certain amount, some a lesser amount, some a lesser amount, but it doesn’t matter. How faithful are we? This gets again to the heart of finishing strong, of making certain that prosperity does not corrupt my life.

I want to close by reading the shortest parable in the Bible. It’s two verses. It’s in Matthew 13. But to me, it gets to the heart of what we’ve talked about these the past two weeks. It gets to the heart of the deep yearning that we have in our lives. What is it that we’re really longing for? What is the object of life? And I think Jesus tells us something very revealing about the longings of the heart in this short little parable in Matthew 13, where He says this, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant who is seeking fine pearls and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went out and sold all that he had and bought it. Now Jesus, in this parable I think is telling us this merchant’s search for pearls represents the long human search for contentment and satisfaction and meaning. And this merchant obviously already possessed certain pearls, which were probably of great value to him. And yet what’s interesting, he was still searching. He was still searching for something he did not possess, but that he was hoping was out there and he was hoping he might find one day. And then what happens, he finds that pearl of great value and he gladly sells everything that he had previously considered very worthwhile in order to take hold of that which he was really looking for.

And I think Jesus is telling us that this is what a right relationship with God is all about and its worth is of such great value because He says it’s worth everything. Christ is saying, I’m what your heart is longing for, but you must give yourself to Me. You must surrender your life to Me. You have to let go. You have to let go. He says, for when we do, this is the paradox, when we do, that’s when we’ll suddenly find we have everything we’ve been searching for. It’s found in Him. Let’s close in prayer.

Lord, as we leave this place this morning, we truly are grateful men for we realize all that You’ve blessed us with. You’ve given us our lives, our very existence. You’ve given us our health, our family, our friends, You’ve given us the financial resources that we have. You’ve given us our talents, our abilities, but most significantly Lord, You’ve given us the Lord Jesus, the greatest gift that we could ever receive. As Paul described Him. Thanks be to God for that indescribable gift, Jesus Christ. Father, I pray that we would be impacted by Your words this morning. Help us Lord to keep our compass, help us to stay courageous, help us to realize Lord, all that we have really is Yours and that You’ve called us to manage it. I pray that we would be faithful stewards. We pray these things in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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