Martes, Hunyo 16, 2015



IN ONE WAY or the other, all of us want to be rich.  It tickles us to think of ourselves having lots of money, owning numerous properties and resources that are more than enough to satisfy our wants and desires.
     To achieve this ambition, many of us are willing to do just about anything.  There are those who would use up all their energies to succeed in work, even if it means spending little or no time at all with their family.  Some would even resort to desperate measures such as corrupt practices—all for the sake of gaining material wealth.

     What most of us fail to see is that after risking everything and achieving prosperity, we have to deal with the fact that the riches we have gained from hard work will not last forever:
     for riches do not last for ever;
    and does a crown endure to all generations?
  (Prov. 27:24, Revised Standard Version)
     Isn’t this kind of wealth this world offers—riches that is temporal, coterminous with man’s strength and life?  Indeed, when the time comes for this earth to meet its end, so will every single penny, every ounce of gold, and every pound of man’s precious treasures be no more:
    The possessions of his house will be carried away,
    dragged off in the day of God’s wrath.
(Job 20:28, Ibid.)
     We don’t have to wait for the day of God’s wrath or judgment to prove for ourselves the limitation of what worldly riches can buy.  We have seen prosperous people die lonely, not being able to enjoy the wealth they have amassed for themselves.  At death, the rich will not be able to take the fruits of their labor down to their graves and only others will benefit instead (Ecc. 6:2).  As Apostle Paul puts it:
     For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.(I Tim. 6:7, New international Version)
     It is true that money and earthly possessions can do a lot of things for us, but they are not the end-all of our existence.  What we should strive harder to achieve, therefore, is wealth that transcend the boundaries of material satisfaction.

     There are riches that are far greater than all the world’s treasures.  The Book of Proverbs mentions of an “enduring wealth and prosperity” (Prov. 8:18, RSV).  Apostle Paul likewise talks about riches found in the Lord Jesus Christ and preached by God’s messengers (Eph. 3:8).
     The significance of the riches the Bible speaks of is that they are enduring or lasting, very much unlike the riches of this world.  We should work much harder to achieve this wealth, for whatever price we have to pay for it is definitely worth it.
     But which is the riches that endures or lasts?
     “There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing;
And one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches.

 The ransom of a man’s life is his riches,
But the poor does not hear rebuke.
(Prov. 13:7-8, New King James Version)
     The ransom or the redemption of one’s life is the greatest wealth a person can ever have.  By being redeemed one is spared from the curse of the law under which each human being, on account of sin is placed (Gal. 3:13; Rom. 6:23).  That curse is the death in the lake of fire on Judgment Day (Rev. 20:14) from which no one—not even the riches man on earth—can escape:
    Neither their silver nor their gold
    will be able to save them
    on the day of the Lord’s wrath.”

In the fire of his jealousy
    the whole earth will be consumed,
for he will make a sudden end
    of all who live on the earth.
(Zeph. 1:18, NIV)
      What worldly wealth cannot overcome the true riches which is in the redemption of the soul can ultimately outlast.  No matter how much pleasure we can derive from the riches of the world, the fact remains that such wealth can do nothing to save us on the day of God’s wrath (Prov. 11:4)

     The value of redemption is further manifested in the way it was carried out.  No less than the precious blood of Christ was shed to redeem the sins of the fortunate ones:
     “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” (Eph. 1:7, NIV)
     Through the redemption of Christ, man’s sins are forgiven, the curse of the law removed, and eventually, salvation is to be rewarded.  Those redeemed by the blood of Christ are the ones who have received such riches brought about by God’s grace.  So, if you are among those who toil themselves to the bones just to get rich in material possessions, all the more should you seek to avail of Christ’s redemption.  It is the true wealth that lasts.

     Redemption, however, is not achieved by merely professing belief or faith in Christ.  The Bible specifically identifies who the redeemed ones are:
     “Take heed therefore to yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, to feed the church of Christ which he has purchased with his blood.”  (Acts 20:28, Lamsa Translation)
     To be among the redeemed, one must join the Church of Christ or the Iglesia ni Cristo, for it is the one purchase by the blood of the Lord Jesus.  Hence, if we refuse to join the Church, we are, in effect turning down the chance to become rich in the biblical sense of the word.
     If we are members of the Church of Christ, we have the right to become heirs of the kingdom promised by God.  So even if many of us are poor by human standards, we can be counted among those considered rich in the sight of God (Js. 2:5).
     On the other hand, we may be prosperous in terms of money and material belongings, but without having received redemption, or being nonmembers of the Church of Christ, we are but poor, helpless souls bound to suffer eternal punishment on the day of Judgment.

     This truth compels us to consider which among our priorities should take the highest rank.  Do we put more weight on acquiring mundane riches?  If so, we are resigning ourselves to the sad fate awaiting all sinners at the end of the world.  Do we value the true wealth taught in the Bible above the riches of this world?  Then we should not allow our ambitions of succeeding in this life hinder our quest for the other, which is the eternal life in heaven.
     Moses exemplifies a person of such a strong conviction.  He chose to give up his royal privileges as an adopted son of the pharaoh’s daughter in exchange for being counted among God’s people:
     “It was faith that made Moses, when he had grown up to be called the son of the king’s daughter.  He preferred to suffer with God’s people rather than to enjoy sin for a little while.  He reckoned that to suffer scorn for the Messiah was worth for more than the treasures of Egypt, for He kept his eyes on the future reward.”  (Heb. 11:24-26, Today’s English Version)
     In the olden times, Egypt was a rich and powerful nation.  Moses could have opted to live and enjoy the luxurious life of a prince by just staying there.  But he didn’t.  He moved out to search for the better land God prepared for His people even if it meant stepping down to the level of a slave.  Between the treasures of the Egypt and the future reward promised by God, Moses preferred the latter to the former, the eternal to the mundane.
     Not that God wants us to renounce all material possessions and ambitions, as would a pagan ascetic.  The point here is, during crucial moments when we have to choose between material considerations and God’s riches, we should know which one to prefer over the other.
     The way to God’s wealth is not easy path.  We must avail of Christ’s redemption, enter in His Church, and remain as faithful servants till the end.  Along the road, we will encounter trials and we have to make sacrifices to prove our faith.  The true Church of Christ members are expected by the Lord to give up material wealth and choose the true wealth that is in Christ.  This will not be a difficult task for us.  As Apostle Paul said:
     “But all those things that might count as profit I now reckon as loss for Christ’s sake.  Not only those things; I reckon everything as complete loss for the sake of what is so much more valuable, the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.  For his sake I have thrown everything away; I consider it all as mere garbage, so that I may gain Christ and be completely united with him …” (Philip. 3:7-9, Ibid.)  *

Published by the Iglesia ni Cristo
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