What is True Wealth?

In Luke 12 Jesus shares the parable of the rich fool. It is a story about a man whose business is prospering. He is planning on expanding the business and believes that, once he finishes the expansion, he will be financially secure and finally will be able to “take life easy, eat, drink, and be merry.” Jesus then makes this assessment about the man’s plan: “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded of you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself? This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich towards God.”

I have often wondered what Jesus actually meant by the phrase, “rich towards God.” In Luke 16 Jesus uses a similar phrase, “the true riches of life.”

What are the true riches of life? What does it really mean to be a wealthy person? In II Corinthians 6:10, the apostle Paul says, “I have nothing yet possess all things.” Clearly, true wealth in life is not financial wealth.

In Proverbs we are told that having a good name is of more value than great riches. (Proverbs 22:1)

In Proverbs 3:13-14 we are told that wisdom and understanding is of more profit than silver and gold, and that nothing we desire can compare with it.

And throughout scripture God clearly speaks of the incredible value of the various relationships we are blessed with. I remember speaking at a man’s funeral and remarked that, though my friend lived a modest life, he was very rich in his relationships.

However, the apostle Paul says there is one thing that is of greater value than everything else. He says:

I count all things to be loss compared to the possessions of the priceless privilege and surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord. For His sake I have lost everything and consider them rubbish in order that I might gain Christ. (Philippians 3:8)

Paul is telling us that “I have found life’s great treasure.” Jesus calls it a pearl of great value. In essence he is telling us that he is a very wealthy man when it comes to what really matters.

Paul had found life’s greatest treasure, and that is knowing Jesus Christ personally and walking through life with Him.

Dr. Peter Moore, the founder of Trinity Seminary, shares how he came to this realization at a class reunion:

Returning to my twenty-fifth reunion at Yale, I watched as Mercedes-Benz’s disgorged prosperous-looking members of the class of 1958 and their wives at the gates of the Old Campus. The program announced that former classmates were preparing to tell the rest of us about the lessons they had learned climbing ladders to success. Wandering along familiar campus pathways that first evening of the reunion, two questions weighed heavily on my mind: “Had I been a success? . . . What is success?” The occasion, redolent with nostalgia, demanded such questions be asked and answers at least attempted. After all, what had one to show for all that expensive education after a quarter of a century?

I tried to be as honest with myself as I could be. I refused to take easy refuge in pat answers that, after all, I had started this and done that. While I was thus musing, suddenly I remembered that a friend who was a rector of a nearby church had invited me to join him and a handful of parishioners for their customary 5:00 PM Evening Prayer. I hurried across campus to St. John’s and took my place as the service opened, still very troubled by the questions I couldn’t shake from my mind.

We came in time to a familiar part of the service, recorded in Luke 2, where the aged Simeon picks up the Christ child in the Temple and blesses God with these words: “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.” Listening to these words, I felt a quiet assurance settle in my soul. All the anticipation of wise, old Simeon’s many years found joyous fulfillment in one moment’s realization that, there, in his arms was the long-awaited Messiah. Such was the sense of completeness that his knowledge gave him, he was now ready to depart – or die – in peace.”

In the quiet of that service I discovered what real success was. It came to me quietly, but very clearly, that the only thing worth calling success was coming to the knowledge of God and being able to behold him in the face of His Son. It seemed to me a knowledge so profound and yet so simple that it made even the smallest accomplishment of great importance when done in its light.

The foundation of our wealth is walking through life with Jesus, and knowing that we have eternal life.


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