Posted by: Harry Sasnowitz | June 4, 2011

Being Rich Toward God

   Then He said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And He told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

   Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store up my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ‘

   “But God said to Him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded of you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

   “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12: 15-21)

   As I read this portion of scripture, the question came to me, “How does being ‘rich toward God’ show itself?” Of course it’s not like God is in need of anything; He’s all powerful, all knowing, all present, and He is the owner of everything to begin with.

  Jesus sheds some light on this subject in Matthew 25 when he speaks of the end time, when He separates His people from those who are not:

   “Then the King will say to to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:34-40)

   Jesus could not have been more clear in saying that being rich toward God has so much to do with how we treat one another and relate to one another, especially when it comes to ministering to the poor and oppressed among us. Being “rich toward God” in this way requires much more than casually writing a check out to our local churches on Sunday morning, thinking we have done our duty. It requires entering into someone else’s poverty and oppression in order to understand and identify with their need, and meet it accordingly. In fact, meeting many of these needs have very little or nothing to do with giving money; it has everything to do with giving of ourselves… and connecting with the needy and oppressed on a relational level to bring them the care and comfort that they need.

   Nonetheless, we can’t ignore that money, in and of itself, is still important and necessary at times for the furtherance of God’s kingdom. But we should approach it prayerfully, looking for direction from the Holy Spirit as to how much and where we should scatter our seed. Just accepting traditional forms of giving that are routinely promoted from the pulpit may not at all be the direction God may want us to take. Consider what Jesus had to say to the religious establishment of His day:

“Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? But give what is inside the dish to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.” (emphasis mine) (Luke 11:39-41)

Jesus’ referral to the “inside of the dish” was referring to the “offering plate” that was used for collections in the temple. There was widespread corruption in the religious establishment (Jesus turning over the tables of the money changers inside the temple gives a small glimpse of this), and Jesus was certainly not ignorant to the fact that the religious leaders of the day loved money, and the money collected was not being used as it ought. Simply put, Jesus’ statement to the Pharisees, “Give what is inside the dish to the poor, and everything will be clean for you” was a clear rebuke of their stewardship of money, and an exposing of their total neglect of the poor among them, who were supposed to be the main benefactors of the money going “inside the dish.” Instead of being rich toward God by ministering to the poor among them, they were being rich unto themselves.

Some things never change.

Statistics show that 85% of funds received by church are directed toward internal operations of the organization; 50% of it going to staff salaries.

Mission outreach & evangelism accounts for about 3% of the average church budget. The rest of the money remaining can be used for other practical purposes.  (John & Sylvia Ronsville, “The State of Church Giving Through 2000,” Champaign, Ill.: Empty Tomb, 2002, 1:  also, Lifeway Research, Average Church Budget Spending, n.d.”)

I’m not going to expound further on this subject, but my 4 part series entitled “Tithe Doctrine from a New Covenant Perspective” further expounds on this general topic, and through a Christ-centered, New Covenant focus challenges us to further analyze some of the things we have been taught on the subject of giving.

In closing, if one had to pick a portion of scripture to best summarize what biblical Christianity is all about, I think Isaiah 61:1-3 would be a great selection, which points to the coming ministry of Jesus the Christ:

“The Spirit of the sovereign Lord is on Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor, He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion-to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair…”

And we are anointed in Him for this same purpose. So lets go out and be rich toward God, bringing honor and glory to His name.



  1. The last two post…. right and write on target. Harry. Thanks for the encouragement.



  2. Wonderful! Thank you for sharing this. God bless you.



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