♣ The Path of Inestimable Value
Better is the little the righteous have than the abundance of many wicked.
Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice.
THE OLD TESTAMENT is explicit with innumerous accounts of God demonstrating His favour and blessing to His chosen people through material prosperity. The New Testament emphasizes God’s way of blessing in the spiritual domain. Christ embodies all that the Old Testament foreshadowed; it is in Christ we are made rich, as Paul declared in Ephesians 1:3 “…God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” The subsequent verses through to the end of the third chapter are expository of our relation to God through our position in Christ.
This is not to say that God now refrains from bestowing His favour in the material sense, but His prerogative and emphasis lie primarily in the spiritual. We have such a contrast when comparing the life of the early church recorded in the Acts of the Apostles to Israel entering and possessing the promised land; the apostle Paul to Solomon; John, the exiled apostle – author of Revelation – to Joseph, 2nd in command to Pharaoh King of Egypt.
The early church was heavily persecuted and a complete failure to the world’s standards, but in the midst of their suffering, there was an undeniable joy and peace unspeakable birthed by the Holy Spirit in a measure none of the prophets, priests and kings of the O.T. experienced; while the Holy Spirit was present and very active before Christ’s advent, He was not poured out in fullness, Who now mediates to us our true eternal riches in Christ; He persuasively magnifies our eternal inheritance as co-heirs of Christ.
We see this foreshadowing among the Levite priests who had no share in the lots and inheritance of the lands of Israel, but God was their portion and inheritance (Numbers 18:20; Deuteronomy 18:2). In Christ we are a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9), each of us are to walk as living sacrifices that God accepts as true service and worship (Romans 12:1).
Reconciling us through Christ, God has become our inheritance in order that we be filled with all the fullness of Him (Ephesians 3:19), to know the only true God which is eternal life (John 17:3); to be loved and know God dwelling in our very souls – all of which sounds too good to be true because so few have known God to exceed all that He has promised. This is the treasure a regenerate believer will sacrifice all that they have just to have this pearl of inestimable value – “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” – Jim Elliot.
The cost of pursuing God may subject any one of us to suffer the loss of material prosperity, to know financial hardship – so opposite to the money-orientated contradictions that still linger on from our pulpits – but that will settle all well and good with the one’s who are serious about God; they will taste the wisdom and blessedness of preferring to have little for living righteously than to have much at the expense of godliness (Hebrews 11:24-26); they know they are already eternally rich, having a treasure that can never spoil, be stolen or destroyed. Their gaze is fixed by the eternal, not by temporary fixations that fade to nothing.
This perspective is so alien to mainstream popular Christianity, where so many people pour into ‘casino-churches’, taking that ‘stretch of faith’ to throw the ‘dice of tithe’, praying to ‘strike it lucky’ with God; many tithe not out of love for God but for what added interest they can accumulate from Him. Innumerous church attendees pervert the following text to justify their means: “Put Me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need” (Malachi 3:10) – which is just as ridiculous as sinning all the more so that grace may abound! Today, Leonard Ravenhill’s words speak with greater conviction more than ever, “The early church was married to poverty, prisons and persecutions. Today, the church is married to prosperity, personality, and popularity.”
This is one of the main reasons why many have turned away from pursuing God, for they sought Him with ulterior motives to profit themselves to begin with. They have not considered the cost because a false gospel proclaimed never reveals the terms and conditions of true discipleship – what it really means to follow Christ. The modern trends and vogues of 21st century Christianity demands the motivational and self-developing ‘good news’ over and above the ‘negative’ Gospel of Jesus Christ, that calls for a self-denying, God-glorifying lifestyle – and if God is to raise up ‘prophets’ in our generation, as of the likes of Tozer and Ravenhill, we can but expect a widespread cold and bitter rejection from the many tares that fill the church. Is it not amazing that like the Pharisees we raise monuments to the prophets once they have passed on, but despised them while they lived amongst us?!
I seriously wonder how many would be found in the church today who are not only willing to live with little, avoiding unjust and dishonest gain in preference for living in righteousness, but who are actually living and walking it. I ponder how many would still pursue God if they were to face an indefinite period of severe financial instability (and I don’t mean a national debt or a world global economical crises) by refusing ill revenues for the sake of Christ.
God does not ensure financial prosperity, and for anyone desiring to aspire in this area seriously lacks a biblical understanding of the principles of God’s kingdom – God’s rule in the heart of man, not man ruling over an ‘empire’ or monopolizing the stock market. Financial prosperity does not spell security, but it is amazing how many Christians bank on it; as long as there is sufficient savings generating high interest, happiness is supposedly guaranteed, but such happiness is not to be equated with the joy of New Testament Christians. Our generation of believers know how to laugh, have fun and celebrate when times are good – that’s happiness, but we hardly know anything of joy in the midst of erratic and chaotic circumstances when everything earthly we hold dear is shaken. Happiness is logical and explainable, while joy of the Holy Spirit defies logic because it is full of glory, a profound Reality too inexpressible for words.
There is a choice put before Christians, and here is where integrity comes in – a quality we seldom come across today: “Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice.” A Christian can either cheat their way through life – however big or small, behind closed doors or out in the open – or choose to be godly in all of life’s decisions. It is amazing how so many are quick to say they never steal and yet evade taxes – however big or small – they will fiddle and exaggerate those numbers to increase a higher tax return. So many professing Christians who not only work ‘under the table’ but also see no wrong in it – and worse still, condemn those who choose to abide by the law of the land (so long as it does not compromise their obedience to God). “Render unto Caesar’s what is Caesar’s…” still requires obedience, and don’t think for one moment that the Roman Empire was just in all of its governing!
There has been a great deal of ill gain, and all in the name of Christianity! Some may have fatter wallets for ‘thin’ lies told. We might pull a ‘fast one’ over with the IRS, but we are held accountable before the One Who will require an answer for every one of our actions. Integrity is one of those traits easily over-looked by the public eye, just like motives are almost indiscernible by mere intuition, but God knows the secrets of our hearts and will either reward or condemn openly.
For a Christian to avoid paths of ill gain is to live a life of trust in God, even when that entails great losses on our part – but discipleship is not about what we can get out of pursuing God, but rather our sacrificed lives being a pleasing aroma to Him. To consider and meet the cost of walking the paths of righteousness is to demonstrate complete trust in God, Who has promised to withhold no good thing from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11). We may have little in material possessions but if our Maker is our God and Father and Whose ways we love and pursue, we will know Him to be our refuge, our Shelter, our Deliverer, our Rock – our expectation will be from Him. God not only has our back covered but He is a wall of impenetrable fire around those who are known and loved by Him. It is not so much what He gives us but how He bestows His blessings and favour upon us; it is the touch of our Heavenly Father Who knows our needs more than we’ll ever know. He knows each one of our frames and is perfectly acquainted with all of our ways down to the silent sigh too deep for words.
“Better is the little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked.”
Materialistically, we may suffer in this life only to grow stronger in the Realities of our eternal riches of being co-heirs with Christ – heirs of God Himself! These are not truths purely confined to the next life; our journey has already begun to explore the unsearchable riches of Christ. We act as if Church History is complete but there are chapters yet to be written.
The coming days of famine, calamity and great evil will determine whose feet are truly on solid ground.
Posted on March 22, 2012, in ♣ Devotional and tagged co-heirs with Christ, Deuteronomy 18:2, devotional, eternal riches, feet on solid ground, ill-gain, integrity, Mark Anthony Williams, Numbers 18:20, Proverbs 16:8, Psalm 37:16, Psalm 84:11, Romans 12:1, The coming days, The Path of Inestimable Value. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.