It seems impossible to enter heaven with riches. You might as well start chopping up the camel to feed it through the eye of the needle. But the message is: trust God to save you and provide for you as you hold your wealth lightly.
Peter in his impulsiveness becomes the spokesperson for the group of disciples when he says, "Behold, we have left our own homes and followed You." He (they) is reacting to what Jesus has just told the Rich Young Ruler. "It is hard for a rich man to get into heaven. You need to give away your riches and leave home and family and follow Me." Ok, then Peter says, "What about us. We are in that situation, we have left all that for You. Is it all just a waste of time, effort and money?" The implied question in Luke's Gospel is stated explicitly in Matthew's account. "What then, will there be for us?" What do we get out of it? By starting his question with "Behold" Peter is making his statement very emphatically. Lord, we are in that same situation! What about us? In Luke's gospel, Peter's statement is translated in English as, "We have left our own homes and followed you". Matthew and Mark have "everything". In fact the original statement is [ta panta idia] - The all things - meaning all the things that are ours. All our possessions, property, home and family, effectively the "everything" of Matthew and Mark's account. All their worldly possessions and interests, including wife and family.
I was once asked a question of the Mark account of this pericope. Where Mark writes a hundred times as much now, I was asked if Mark meant to include wives in that? Would God multiply to us wives too? No, the simple answer is that this list is a collective of all their and our possessions. Notice too that Mark and Matthew leave wives out of their list. Luke includes wives but it does not imply that we can expect multiple wives to come from serving the Lord and leaving all to follow Him. However, we can expect a multiplied abundance of these things.
Tania and I have found over the years that we have indeed received multiple houses, possessions, cars, friends, family, brothers, sisters, and children through serving Him. But I am happy to report, one wife. At one stage we kept a photo collection of the cars that God had provided us with. At one stage we were given a car by some dear friends. Not just the use of one, but ours to keep and sell later when we moved on. In addition to that, we have had multiple cars provided at the times we have needed them. It is amazing. The same has been true of houses, and not only houses that were ours to use, often times houses which we could consider as much our home as the owners living there. We have been truly blessed. But of even more value than the possessions, have been the relationships we have forged with people. We do indeed have fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters and children in abundance, as a result of the gospel and our work with the kingdom of God. We are so blessed. I would not trade this life for anything. It is rich and meaningful. God is true to His promise. Jesus gave us His promise backed by His authority when He said, "Truly I say to you . . . " What I am telling you is the truth. You can bank on it being reality. He is true to His word.
I could fill a book, and someday I will, with stories of the way God has provided. He has provided us with a house of our own three times when the odds were against us. Logic said this is not possible, but God has still come through. Either God's people have been generous to pollaplasionic levels (You will have to wait and read what i wrote below to see what that word) or God has moved in ways that defy logic. We have had loans managers at the bank holding their head in their hands, expressing incredulity that either we could live like we do, or how beyond reason it is for us to dare to ask for a loan when we get no salary. It just makes no sense in human terms; but we are not dealing with human logic. We are dealing with the kingdom of God. Put the things of God first and all these things will be added to you. We have proved it for over 46 years. I could keep you entertained and amazed for hours at the things God has done. Staggering. Mind blowing things. Why would we expect anything less?
The level at which this will operate is manifold: [pollaplasion] - a combination of "many", "much", "more", "an abundance" coupled with [pleko] a braided rope. The abundance of a multi strand or braided rope. This all reminds me of the comments by Paul in Ephesians 3:20 about which I wrote Bible Gem 662 – The More Than Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious God. That also is the nature of [pollaplasion]. God gives multiplied, manifold times more than we can hope or imagine. It is His nature. It is all true, I can vouch for it. But as we learned from the Parable of the Rich Fool and the Lazarus story, it won't work if your focus is yourself. As we saw in yesterday's Gem
through 2 Cor 9:11, God gives us riches and abundance that we might share it around and He might get the glory.
The final thing to notice in this section, is that there is a two-fold focus – in keeping with the manifold nature of His provision. There is a 'now' component (at this time) and a future dimension (in the Age to Come) or eternal benefit. We already know the nature of the kingdom of God is both now and to come. The fullness will come but we have an expression of that God-given abundance now in this age. I can testify to that. We will indeed receive multiplied blessings now, but the true outpouring is destined for the Age to Come. Wow. If what Tania and I have seen to date is anything to go by, God's outpouring of blessing is going to be of fire hose intensity later.
In order to ensure you are a recipient in the Age to Come make sure your focus now is not on yourself. Learn to share the blessings now. Ian
God is more interested in making us channels of blessing to others rather than islands of blessing to ourselves!
There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; or you can live as if everything is a miracle. Albert Einstein
Past forgiven, Purpose for livin', Home in heaven. Man, what a life and what a future hope. Rick Godwin