Riches & Poverty

Riches & Poverty

“One man pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth” (Proverbs13: 7).

What a difficult thing it is not to measure our lives by worldly standards! The Living Bible’s paraphrase of the above verse reads, “Some rich people are poor, and some poor people have great wealth!” The Bible does not condemn wealth and possessions per se; but it says volumes about the attitude toward wealth and the responsibility of wealth. Paul told Timothy that God “gives us richly all things to enjoy” (I Tim.6:17). He also warns Timothy in this same chapter that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (V.10). It is a temptation for any man who handles money to fall in love with it. But a man’s life must be measured by something more than “the abundance of things which he possesses” (Luke 12:15). The psalmist warned, “If riches increase, set not your heart upon them.”

To the Corinthians Paul wrote, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Cor.8:9). Rich in money and possessions? No! Rich spiritually!  In Ephesians, chapter one, Paul speaks of “the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding”(Vs.7-8). Is Paul talking about houses? Barns? Gold? Silver? Material possessions? No! The “riches of God’s grace” includes forgiveness, redemption, hope, power and the Holy Spirit. The riches of eternal, spiritual blessings! Henry Ward Beecher once wrote, “No man can tell whether he is rich or poor by turning to his ledger. It is the heart that makes a man rich. He is rich according to what he is, not according to what he has.” The spiritual verities insure and develop a man into what he needs to be and was meant to be.

The suffering and persecution of the Christians at Smyrna reduced them to poverty. Jesus said to them, “I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich” (Rev.2:9). Their faith and dedication had made them rich spiritually. What a contrast between the church in Smyrna and the church in Laodicea! Smyrna was poverty-stricken when it came to material things, but rich before God. Laodicea was very rich in material things, but spiritually bankrupt before God. Jesus said to these Christians at Laodicea, “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (Rev.3:17).  Trench, the noted Greek lexicographer, commented, “There are both poor rich-men, and rich poor-men in God’s sight.” Again, the spiritual must always have the priority over material things. Rudyard Kipling, while giving advice in a commencement address to graduates against an over-concern for wealth, position, and glory, said, “Someday you will meet a man who cares for none of these things – and then you will know how poor you are!”

Paul asks us, “What do you have that you did not receive?” (I Corinthians 4:7) Every blessing, even material, comes from God. We don’t really own a thing; it all belongs to God. We are just stewards of it all for a short time. So, enjoy what material things God has placed in your keeping. Use it properly! But realize it is only temporary; it will pass away. Spiritual riches abide forever; they are eternal. Be rich before God!

“Man cannot live by bread alone,

This has been proven o’er and o’er—

Yet still men try to satisfy

The inner life with earthly store.”

Charles Cash

Antitheists, Not Atheists

Antitheists, Not Atheists“Atheism” – derived from Greek “a”, meaning “without”, and “theos”, meaning “God” – is the rejection of belief in the existence of deity.  Ostensibly, atheists simply disbelieve in God, which is bad enough, for it is written, “The unbelieving… shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8). Many self-proclaimed atheists, however, do not carry on as though God is not real.  Rather, those who identify as atheists are often, in fact, antitheists or contratheists.  They are against God.  They oppose Him actively.  Ray Comfort explained it well: “Atheists don’t hate fairies, leprechauns, or unicorns because they don’t exist.  It is impossible to hate something that doesn’t exist.  Atheists… hate God because He does exist”.

Believers are compelled to lead unbelievers to God because Jesus commanded, “Go therefore and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19).  Paul summarized his sense of obligation, saying, “Necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1st Corinthians 9:16).  The gravity of this task is manifest: “Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2nd Corinthians 5:11).  Christians desire the conversion of nonbelievers in order to spare them their doom.  Atheists have no such motivation to convince Christians to abandon faith.  Rejecting the very notion of eternity, they cannot fear what will ultimately become of those with whom they disagree.  Yet, some self-described atheists are willing to engage Christians in public debate with formally declared propositions.  Many more would rather troll churches and Christians on the internet, mocking faith.  “A proud and haughty man — ‘Scoffer’ is his name; he acts with arrogant pride” (Proverbs 21:24).  They present themselves as superior in intellect, but offer nothing wholesome or beneficial with which to replace trust in the Divine.  “A scoffer seeks wisdom and does not find it, but knowledge is easy to him who understands” (Proverbs 14:6).

If they were true atheists, merely disbelieving God, they would care nothing at all about others’ convictions.  They do care, though.  They are threatened by faith, and, therefore, hate the God of heaven.  Thus, they cannot accurately be regarded as atheists.  They are antitheists.

Bryan M. Dockens

 

THE TRAIL OF THE SERPENT

THE TRAIL OF THE SERPENTNot long ago I was looking among a pile of old books and I picked up one which had a chapter headed, “The Trail of the Serpent.” The chapter began by saying that “there is a dead-line of hate between the serpent and man. It is old as pain and it will last to the end of the trail. The young and the old become anxious and uneasy when they come upon the trail of the serpent. It is a danger signal. The serpent may be coiled nearby, ready to strike and poison and kill with his deadly virus. Like unto the trail of the serpent is the Scandal-monger, the Tattler, and the Gossip. They hurry and wound the children of men, and they feast and fill and fatten on the reputation and character of their fellows.”

No one has any objections against honest and constructive criticisms, and most of us approve the full and frank discussion of daily news, the position of preachers, teachers and public officials; but all right thinking people, and especially those who claim to follow the Lord, ought to rise up in holy horror and wage relentless war against those assassins of reputation and character who gossip and tattle and throw mud with no evidence save such vague and hazy statements as “they say,” “did you hear?”, “I heard,” etc. Space will not allow calling the names of countless men and women, boys and girls, who have been poisoned and have gone down under the calumny of these idle busybodies. Schools, churches, businesses and professions have been destroyed by them, and some of the bravest and best bear their scars.

In a not too distant town there lives today a wonderful Christian woman who once fell deeply into sin. For years now her light has shone for Christ and His church as she ministered to the weak and erring, the sick and unfortunate. She has never failed to wage war against the evils which seek the destruction of youth. She is old now, but these slanderers will not leave her alone. When the battle is joined with old Satan’s servants, these slanderers, like vultures, turn back the pages of time and seek to crucify her all over again in order to justify themselves in the courses pursued. My business is to turn souls away from the Devil, but if one is determined after being taught and the proper example set to serve Satan, why not take a real place, like safe blowing or robbery?!  Why this scavenger job of gossiping?! Someone has well said: “Slander shuns a clean mind. There is something unclean in us when we love to dwell upon the diseases of society. Arson, stealing and murder are sins that have no palliation; but roll them into one black lump, and they pale before the crime of murdering a reputation. Let us look for the good in our brethren and encourage it to grow with recognition. “The slanderer seems never to realize the harm which may come of his gossiping.