“I AM RICH AND AFFLUENT AND HAVE NO NEED OF ANYTHING”
And to the Church of Laodicea, God replied, “and yet do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich, and white garments to put on so that your shameful nakedness may not be exposed, and buy ointment to smear on your eyes so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and chastise. Be earnest, therefore, and repent. Per the New American Bible biblical notes, Verse 17 refers to Economic prosperity leading to spiritual bankruptcy. In Verse 18, “gold refined by fire” is God’s grace. “White garments” are a symbol of an upright life; “Ointment to smear on your eyes” means to remove spiritual blindness. Earnest, in this case means a serious and intense conviction for God. Repentance (asking for God’s forgiveness of our sins) is one of the keys to the Kingdom of God.
I was a millionaire by the time I was 42, but I was morally bankrupt. My moral bankruptcy cost me my marriage, my reputation, a lot of money in legal fees, and almost my life. I learned my lesson through the Grace of God.
In Chapter 6 of my new book Tribulation, my commentary addressing Revelation 3:17-19 says: “I’ve seen this in both Catholic and Protestant churches, so its not specific to one religion. I’ve seen it in some towns more than others.”
I currently (and temporarily) live in New Canaan, CT. It’s a town of roughly 20,000 people. Per Wikipedia, the town is one of the wealthiest communities in the nation. In 2011, New Canaan was ranked 8th on CNN Money‘s list of the top-earning places in the United States and in 2008 it had the highest median family income in the country. I don’t, and will never fit in to such a town.
We moved here in August 2012 because the NYC public school that my autistic son attended, put his life in jeopardy by letting him run out in W93rd Street several times, between parked buses and in to oncoming traffic. They were brazen enough to write about it in his final IEP (Individualized Education Program). He had been “misplaced” in this school, based on his disability. When I approached the NYCDOE placement office about placing him in a school more appropriate for his disability in the 2012 – 2013 school year, I was told to contact the current school’s guidance counselor. The guidance counselor quickly told me that was not his job, which I already knew. I was being mocked and hopefully humiliated.
New York City is our home and we intend to move back once our lease is up in New Canaan. We choose to be two among a melting pot of many peoples, nations and tongues. I can’t condemn New York City or its Department of Education for the despicable actions of probably 2 or 3 people, but I can condemn the actions of those despicable people who used their positions of authority and trust to intentionally allow a disabled (or any) child to injure themselves (read Luke 17:1-2). I’m a very protective father (and person). After I read the IEP, I had recurring visions of my son lying dead in the middle of W93rd. If you have strong reason to believe that people in positions of authority and trust would put your loved one’s life in peril, you get your loved one (or any person) out of that situation. I did contact the Chancellor’s office and the District 3 office about the problems…I’m still awaiting their responses.
Thus, you look across the Long Island Sound, research school districts and you find a “top notch” district in the “new land of milk and honey”. Now you know how we came to live in New Canaan, CT, albeit temporarily.
Meriam-Webster defines idolatry as the worship of a physical object as a god
St. Paul said in Ephesians 5:5, “Be sure of this, that no immoral or impure or greedy person, that is, an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”
Jesus wasn’t very fond of the rich, not because of envy (See God’s 10thCommandment) but because of the idolatrous nature of many of the rich. If you dislike the rich because of your own jealousy, then you’re misguided.
In Matthew 19:16-30 The Rich Young Man; “Jesus said; “24 Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, “Who then can be saved?” 26 Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” In this case, the eye of a needle means a low or narrow gate. The kingdom of God: means Heaven (NAB biblical notes) There is similar Scripture in Mark 10:17-30.
In Mark 10:21; Jesus told a man seeking the kingdom of God; “Go, sell what you have, and give to [the] poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” But it was a righteous and a wealthy man from Arimathea named Joseph who was also a distinguished member of the Sanhedrin (but had not consented to their plan of action to kill Jesus) and disciple of Jesus, and who courageously went to Pontius Pilate and requested and received permission to remove Jesus’s body from the cross, as well as providing the tomb, which was the last resting place for the physically “crushed” body of the Messiah. (Matthew 27: 57-61; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42)
Jesus shared time with tax collectors, like Zacchaeus, who while a rich man, provided a contrast to the rich man of who cannot detach himself from his material possessions to become a follower of Jesus. Zacchaeus, according to Luke, exemplifies the proper attitude toward wealth: he promises to give half of his possessions to the poor and consequently is the recipient of salvation. (Luke 18:18-23, 19:2, 8-10 and associated NAB biblical notes.)
Can the wealthy stay on a path to salvation? ABSOLUTELY! As long as they realize that God is first in their lives and that they have their wealth because of God’s blessings. Being wealthy is not a sin … Being pretentious is. God’s 10th Commandment says, “You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor”. This evolved into the modern day saying “Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses”. I can be outspoken just like the Guy discussed above. I joke that New Canaan is responsible for at least 10% of German exports in the form of luxury car purchases. Maybe my humor gets me plenty of dirty looks when jogging with my Husky, Isaac, and even gets me the occasional hand gesture honoring feathered and winged creatures. I think the last guy to do that was driving a Mercedes! (LOL!) But I digress.
I keep my priorities straight and I drive a Chevy Equinox. I leased it in late July 2012 and in 7 months; I’ve driven almost 1,800 miles. It’s a 4 cylinder with an EPA estimated MPG, 22 city and 32 Highway AND it’s domestic: creating jobs in the U.S. I will turn it in to lease provider when we move back to New York City. We definitely don’t need a car in the city.
St. Paul said in 1Timothy 6:17-19 Right Use of Wealth; 17 Tell the rich in the present age not to be proud and not to rely on so uncertain a thing as wealth but rather on God, who richly provides us with all things for our enjoyment. 18 Tell them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, ready to share, 19 thus accumulating as treasure a good foundation for the future, so as to win the life that is true life. In this Scripture, Timothy is directed to instruct the rich, advising them to make good use of their wealth by aiding the poor (per NAB Biblical notes). And in 2Corinthians 8:9, he said; “For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that for your sake he became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich.”
The GOP say that the rich create small businesses and small businesses create jobs. This is very true and it is one way of “giving back” (rather than not just sitting on their wealth. See the Parable of the Talents discussion below) and reducing unemployment while prospering financially. However, prosperity without God in your life leads to moral bankruptcy. Prosperity with God in your life leads to salvation through Faith and Works. Regarding our national debt, you need PRUDENT spending reductions, elimination of tax loopholes, supplemented by any additional REVENUES necessary to balance the federal budget while reducing the federal deficit at a reasonable rate. Works include helping the poor through Charity and social programs (social programs funded by REVENUE). Per 1Corinthians 13:13 “So Faith, Hope, Love remain, these three but the greatest of these is Love.”
“Love” is interchanged with “Charity”, depending on which bible your reading.
There’s a journalist I really like (I’ll call him Joseph) whose favorite Scripture is Matthew 25:14-30, The Parable of the Talents. A talent is this case is a unit of value equal to the value of a talent of gold, silver, or other precious metal. Some who read the Scripture believe Christ talks about financially investing wisely. The lesson of the parable is fidelity in small matters leads to greater responsibilities… Investing in God. Jesus says; “29 For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. God gives further understanding to one who accepts the revealed mystery; from the one who does not, he will take it away (per NAB Biblical notes).
All this above adds up to one thing: True wealth is not in millions and billions but in Righteousness.
Shalom and Peace Be With You
Author G.R. Miller, utilizing his engineering and project management experiences in the fossil fuels energy sectors and guidance from God, takes a pragmatic approach of part preterism, part symbolism and part literalism in decoding the Revelation of Jesus Christ. He exhibits a Climate Change connection through scripture, commentary and illustrations.