Garry continued his ‘Being & Doing’ series, reminding us that our value in God does not come from what we do but is because of His great love for us. In 1 Cor 1:4-8, we read that we ‘have been enriched in every way’ and so often, we can assume this means our value comes from how much we earn or how much money we possess. Earthly riches are no guarantee of spiritual success, however. Jesus reminded us that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God (Matt 19:24); our human tendency is to put our hope in wealth rather than in God (see 1 Tim 6:17-19). Earthly riches can easily become a stumbling-block to us (1 Tim 6:10) and this has been exacerbated by those who have preached a ‘prosperity gospel’ that God’s blessing is only found in material wealth. God is a God of blessing and this can include financial wealth, but we need to ensure that we are not deceived by wealth (see Rev 3:17-18). We so easily put our trust in it and come to rely on it, whereas God wants us to put our trust in Him and learn to store up for ourselves treasures in heaven. (Matt 6:19-21)
Life’s worries, riches and pleasures can easily choke God’s word in our lives, leaving us constricted in our growth. (Luke 8:14) This can be rather like the fatty deposits which build in our arteries, ultimately leading to heart attacks. When our arteries are blocked, the blood flow necessary for life is affected; we can find our spiritual life blocked if we come to rely on the world’s riches.
Paul talks of God enriching us through speech and knowledge (1 Cor 1:5), both of which seem unlikely sources of riches! Jesus has the words of eternal life (John 6:68) and gives us these words to speak to others (Acts 3:6, Acts 9:40, Acts 14:8-10) His words endure (Matt 24:35) and are full of life (John 6:63). When Jesus spoke, even the dead were raised (Mark 5:41, John 11:43) and He makes these powerful words of healing, faith and deliverance available to us too. Paul spoke words of eternal life to the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:29-30) and Philip too gave words of life to the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:30-31). We may feel we are not worthy to be compared to such Christians, but God uses ordinary people (e.g. Ananias in Acts 9:17-18) to bring His messages to people. Prophecy, tongues, interpretations, words of wisdom and words of knowledge are all ways God enriches His church through speech.
Knowledge is what we receive from God’s speech, but this is not the kind of secret knowledge which the Gnostics proclaimed. It’s not merely academic or ‘head’ knowledge, but the revelation of God which He has been pleased to give us. (Col 1:26-27) God gives true knowledge (John 17:3) involving our personal relationship with Christ. God reveals; we receive and we respond. There are many other riches which God lavishes on us (including His kindness, forbearance, patience, grace and glorious inheritance), but we are enriched ultimately in order to enrich others. We are blessed to bless others. God gives to us so that we can give to others.