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Sunday English Service - 18 DEC 16 - Material Prosperity : Good or Evil?


In the last few Sundays we have been looking at the biblical perspective on material prosperity. We have to put it biblically, correctly, and so we have been going through the bible and we started with Genesis Chapter 1 where we see that God created everything in this material world for man; that is why He created everything material first, and then finally made man. So by the time man arrived everything that he would need in this material world for his survival and for flourishing was already made available - everything was made for man. And God placed man in that surrounding of abundance of every material need supplied to him and said that it was very good. Now this is God's doing; God made it the paradigm for human life. By doing that God was simply stating that this is how I want human life to be - this is the condition in which I want men and women to live; families to live. This is what life should be for human beings. That is what is established in chapter 1 and 2 of Genesis. That is why even later on when the people of Israel were in bondage to Egypt when God brought them out - He brings them to a place called the Promised Land; a land flowing with milk and honey, the bible describes it. So why a land flowing with milk and honey? Why such a land - even choosing such a land it seems. The bible says that God chose out of the lands that are filled with milk and honey. He chose the best out of that land (one land), and brought them there. Why? Because He was bringing them back to that same condition that He first put them originally - that's God's will always.

Now we looked at the entire Old Testament, and showed you, and established the fact that this is God's idea of human life. This is how God puts it into perspective. What kind of material life should man have in this world? God makes a statement there in Genesis chapter 1 and 2 and follows that statement and you can see it throughout the Old Testament that it is so. In the New Testament also it is so, except for the fact that in New Testament the picture is kind of muddled by certain things that are said here for some people. Actually we are the ones that muddled it - we are the ones that got it into confusion. If you really look at it, the picture is very clear - God does not have Plan A for Old Testament and then Plan B for New Testament. God does not change His Plan - His idea has not changed. His idea for human life has always been the same; He has never changed His mind, His idea is still the Garden of Eden, still the Promised Land. In Christ He has brought us into our own Promised Land - the real Promised Land (Life in Christ), where our needs are met and we are blessed in every way. So we are in the New Testament and we are dealing with some of the difficulties here in the New Testament. In the New Testament the Book of Luke becomes very important, because Luke has a lot of narratives there, lots of teachings and parables and sayings of Jesus and so on - incidences that have to do with material prosperity where Jesus is actually teaching on material prosperity a lot. And there out of reading that, a lot of people what they have got - they got the idea that Jesus was poor, and the disciples were poor (Peter, John, James...all of them were poor, and Jesus also was poor) and that it is better for us to poor. Maybe the Old Testament was different and the New Testament presents this picture, they say. But I showed you in the Old Testament: the 3d's. When God made earth for man, He gave man three things that are inalienable rights for every human being given at the time of creation by God. God mandated it for man. What are the 3d's? (now when you say 3D you are thinking about some other 3D, but I am talking about the biblical 3D). The 3d's are "Dominion" - When God said: "Let them have dominion", He is talking about man's dominion over everything: That man is over everything, and God is over man; that is the order that God established, that God gave dominion to man.

Secondly, God gave "Dignity" to man, when He said, "Let us make man in our image and in our likeness" (that's dignity. You cannot go any higher than that. You and I are made in the image and likeness of God. You can't get any higher than that: so dominion and dignity).

And the third D has do with "Delight". Delight means to be able to enjoy all of God's creation - everything that God has created. So if God establishes a Garden for man, and there He takes him and says, "You may freely eat of all the trees of the garden" (I like the English version. You may freely eat - freely doesn't mean without paying any money. Freely means - feel free to eat in that sense He says. You can enjoy everything - everything is for you, don't hesitate, don't have to think about whether I would have you taste of everything that is here. Freely eat of all the things). So God wants man to have the enjoyment everything that He has made.

Now, there is dominion, dignity and delight is made possible in one way through the material abundance and prosperity - without material abundance and prosperity it is difficult to experience dominion, dignity and delight. If you do not have enough financial resources it is impossible for you to have dominion. Everything will have domination over you. You will be dominated by everything - you will be dominated by worry first of all. You will be dominated by fear, you will be dominated by your needs. So dominion, dignity (dignity is also impossible if you do not have material prosperity). And delight is also impossible, so material prosperity is linked with this mandate where God gave man dominion, dignity and delight. But in the New Testament there is a confusion as I said: some people read the gospel of Luke, for example (among the four gospels)...the gospel of Luke is very important in this sense, when you talk about prosperity. In the whole bible the gospel according to Luke has more things to say about material things than any other book in the whole bible - and the next book of importance maybe the book of Deuteronomy.

Alright so we have been looking at the gospel according to Luke. People read that and they think - after reading that, many have come to a conclusion that the New Testament teaches that it is better for us to be poor - "the poor are blessed, the rich are cursed". This is the idea they get because there are certain words there like that. 'Blessed are you who are poor, Jesus said (looking at the disciples) for yours is the Kingdom". And then looking at the rich He says, "Woe unto you who are rich". So how do you interpret this? You know they said, well see Jesus said, "Woe to the rich", and "Blessed to the poor". So if you are poor you are blessed and if you rich you are cursed. And this is an over-simplification. You know, people just look at it, and in an over simplified way they interpret things and they have got the wrong picture. But then when you show them certain places in the bible (like I have been showing last week), where it says, contrary to their opinion (see they have come to the conclusion that Jesus was poor, Peter, John, James, everybody was poor - so we ought to be poor also and so on), and then when you show them that Jesus - the kind of life that Jesus enjoyed while He was on this earth; the bible says that He was accused of eating and drinking - He was known for His eating and drinking. And in one place He was openly questioned about Him and His disciples - they said, "the disciples of the Pharisees fast and pray, the disciples of John the Baptist do fast and pray, but what about You and Your disciples. You are always having some kind of partying, eating and drinking all the time. Why are you eating and drinking? There seems to be no spirituality here. What about fasting? And one time Jesus actually replied to them saying, "Well, this is like maapilla veedu he said. This is like the bridegroom's house and we are enjoying this wedding season. And the bridegroom has come, therefore you can't expect people to be fasting when the bridegroom is here. When the bridegroom is taken away, maybe they will fast, but not right now", He says. Now these are the things that people are not able to understand; they cannot put together. On one hand they think of Jesus as one who says, "Foxes have holes, birds nest but the son of God has nowhere to lay His head". On the other hand, they look at Jesus here is eating and drinking, and they say, wait a minute, "I thought He didn't even have a place to lay His head". I thought He lived in sidewalks and platforms. I heard that He was a homeless person, but here it says He has been eating and drinking. What is the true picture? So, we have been dealing with this, and I have been showing you.

Last week I talked about this idea of eating and drinking, and I showed you how this is the Promised Land terminology; actually we can say it is Genesis terminology also. Where God says "You may freely eat of all the trees in the Garden (all trees of the Garden)," there He was talking about eating and drinking. When He described the Promised Land to them also, He said, "Land flowing with milk and honey"; there is eating and drinking. And when He described it one time, He said, "these kinds of fruits are there". And then He says, 'Where you may eat to the full and be satisfied, where you will lack nothing". This is a Deuteronomy description of the Promised Land - the Land flowing with milk and honey. So eating and drinking is that kind of terminology - terminology referring to the fact that everything is supplied in abundance by the blessing of God. And in those days they talked about eating and drinking in that way. So when Jesus ate and drank people objected thinking, "They are all fasting, you are all eating and drinking" And Jesus defended the eating and drinking.

Remember the Prodigal Son came home and the father arranged a feast, and when they were feasting, and the oldest son was fighting outside. He asked, "What is going on? And someone told him, "Your brother has come back, and they are having a party. Your father has killed the fatted calf, he has invited guests and music is playing, and they are really singing and dancing, and they are having a good time. And he asked the father, "Why are you doing this? This fellow went and wasted his money with harlots, how can you do this? How can you be celebrating this? And Jesus justified the celebration of eating and drinking and says, "My son was lost and now he is found. Come and join the celebration", He says (so people find it very difficult to digest all of these). So I want to take you to couple of those parables (we have looked at those parables already, for some others things we were looking for, but we will go back to them again. And I want to establish the fact that Jesus is the Lord of dominion, dignity and delight. With Jesus coming in, it is not that dominion, dignity and delight is cancelled now, with Jesus coming in (with the New Covenant coming in). Jesus is the Lord of the Dominion, Dignity and Delight; He came to bring true dominion, true dignity and true delight. And whenever He condemned riches and wealth, and so on, and the wealthy, you will always see that it was a condemnation, not of wealth, but it is the wrong use of the wealth - wealth in the wrong people's hands doing the wrong things (that is what He condemned), and there you can see also that He came to establish true dominion, delight and delight - He didn't like the wrong kind of dominion, dignity and delight. Some people would have material prosperity and use that to dominate others in the wrong way. Jesus condemns that. Whenever He condemns, He condemns the wrong use of that and he always promotes and preaches dominion, dignity and delight. Even in the passage you have heard you think He is condemning the whole idea of prosperity, He is actually promoting the true dignity, and dominion and delight and condemning the wrong kind of dominion, dignity and delight. So there is the right kind and wrong kind of dominion, dignity and delight.

So let's go to chapter 12 of Luke: That is the story of the Rich Fool (you remember the rich fool. Everybody remembers the rich fool). But let us understand it a little more. I refer to it, to showing you something else. But let's look at it. The story starts with verse 13, "Then one from the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." And He said to him, "Man, who made me a judge or an arbitrator over you?" (So a man comes and says we have a dispute, me and my brother have a dispute, why don't you be an arbitrator and settle this dispute between us? Tell him to divide the inheritance with me. And Jesus says, "Who made me an arbitrator? That is not my job. And then He said to them "Take heed and beware of covetousness." In other words He is saying, "Look I am not an arbitrator, I am not the court, I have not come to settle your disputes. But I have come here to teach you why you are having this problem in the first place. Why you and your brother are fighting about the inheritance. What's wrong? Why is he trying to take away your portion also? Why are you having difficulty in getting what is rightly yours? Because there is covetousness at place. So I am a preacher and I have come from God, and I want to tell you why the problem is there and how to deal with this problem, and therefore He deals with covetousness; He says, "Take heed, and beware of covetousness. For one's life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses", and then starts the Parable: (next verse) To prove this point that they should beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses (and I will explain that later), to prove this, and to show how true this is, He tells a parable. The next verse says: Then He spoke a parable to them saying, "The ground of a certain man yielded plentifully and he thought within himself saying, 'What shall I do since I have no room to store my crops.' So He said I will do this, I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I'll say to myself to my soul, "Soul you have many goods laid up for many years. Take your ease; eat, and drink and be merry."' But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul will be required of you. Then whose will those goods be which you have provided? So is he who has laid up treasure for himself and he is not rich towards God (I have explained some things: but there are some things I want to share about this).

First of all, the story starts with verse 14, with these fellas coming and asking Jesus to be their arbitrator, and that launches Jesus into a talk about covetousness, so this whole parable is about covetousness. It is not a narrative against material prosperity. So don't change the narrative; the thing that I tell people that take this story and try to show, that see: "Jesus said that the rich man is a fool". So if you are rich, you are a fool - that's over-simplification, that is not what He is saying. You should not use the story like this: The story is not about how rich people are fools. The story is about covetousness - the issue here is about covetousness; the narrative here/the story is not a story against riches or wealth; it's a story about covetousness and how it is works and how it is wrong (first establish that in your mind). So the story is about covetousness, and there should not be any doubt about that.

Now listen to the story: He says this man's land yielded plentifully. Now what is wrong with this guy? If a man's land yields plentifully (suppose a man in modern words; if a man does business and his business does well; you get good deals, and get great breaks, and find a lot of work and start making money; is that wrong?) He says this man's land yielded plentifully and he thought within himself saying, "what shall I do since I have no room to store my crops.' (That's a good problem isn't it? When you have so much coming in and you don't even have a room to keep it, that's a very good problem. (I wish everybody had that problem). This man is having tremendous success. So he said I will do this (he is a very clever fella) He says, "I would pull down my barns and built in a greater and there I will store all my crops and goods". Is that wrong? No! So some people would say, "See that is what is wrong this this guy: this guy wanted a bigger barn to store more, something beyond what he actually needs. One fella actually told me, "The whole story is about how you should not have more than what you need". And you know how many people will say, "Amen, Alleluia" for this. The whole story is about how you should not have any more than what you need. Because the problem with this man is that he is trying to build a bigger barn; a bigger barn is wrong. Why do you need a bigger barn? You have only a stomach this size. You can eat only this much. Why do you need a bigger barn? Any time you try to have anything more than what you actually need - a little more than what you actually need, becomes a sin and will lead you to all kinds of wrong things, they say. Because what is the use of having some more, you cannot use it, you can wear only one set of clothes at a time, so if you have just a few sets, why do you want so many? You can live in only one house at a time, you can just use basically use 2 to 3 rooms, why do you want a bigger place. This kind of logic you know. If you want anything more than what you basically and fundamentally need, you are going in the wrong direction. You should not want anything more than you need, because the things that are not necessary for us - the things that are actually not needed, if you go after those things, that's wrong, because they do not any way enrich you. What do it do to you to have 10 different cars, 10 different houses; it doesn't do anything good to you. It doesn't enrich you in any way. Sounds like their logic is reasonable. But let's think: There are many things that don't enrich as in any way, that are not needed actually, but it is very clear in the bible that God wants us to enjoy that. God made Adam and put him in the Garden of Eden, and for this one man, and then his wife came - for these two people, God made thousands of fruit bearing trees, four rivers - don't you think two andaas will be enough for every day. God should be very economical, should conserve everything. Why did He give them four rivers for just two people? That was the land that grew gold. The Tamil bible put's it so beautifully pon vilayum boomi that means gold was growing underneath. Now why? You mean to say you can't live without gold - if you all live without gold, are you going to die? No, nobody would die because there is no gold - we can live very well without gold. Gold is not a necessity, it is not a commodity of necessity. We can live very well without gold. Then why did God put it there? So that we can take a little bit of it and make a little of this thing with it and go buy and look in the mirror, and see how it looks and show everybody, you know; do you like this or do you like that. And there were a whole shelf full of them. It's very beautiful. And I saw a little girl wearing one of those, one day and I said, "Very beautiful". Just a little kid wearing this earpiece, it looks so beautiful. Thank God for gold.

But there are some people who would say, things that are not necessary are not good. We should not have anything that...we should live with basic necessities and no more. Well there are many things like gold, which are not basic necessities, yet God wants us to enjoy them. Now even food (I have told this before); one man told me you eat food just to fill your stomach and strengthen your body, so that you can work for God. You should not be enjoying food; so you can't say, "Oh its finger-llicking good" or something like that, because that is worldly, that is bad; you should just swallow food. And I asked him, "Why didn't them God made our tongue like a spoon? Just to lap up food...why did He put all the taste buds in the tongue? Because He wants me to enjoy it; while I am swallowing it, He wants me to, on the way down into my throat and my stomach - He wants that food to touch my tongue and He wants me to delight in that taste. Oh our Indian curry and the wonderful vindaloo and whatever pepper fry, and whatever you call it; they are so good (am sure I am making you hungry now). How good is God; that's why we take our children, we buy the ice-cream and they smear it all over their face and we enjoy, and say, "Wait a minute let me take a picture before you clean this kid up"...because when He enjoys, that's our enjoyment, he likes it, he loves it, he likes the taste of it. Why didn't God make our tongue to just swallow a thing and not taste it? He wants us to taste it, because that is an extra delight He wants to give to us/enjoyment that He wants to give to us. There is nothing wrong; we can live without that enjoyment. I don't have to taste it in order to live. There are many things like this that we do not basically need. So when I was growing up they said I only need two sets of clothes because why do you need more than that? One is hanging on you, the other one is hanging on clothes line. What do you need more for? What are you going to do with more? Why do you want to buy this? I used to have a battle in those days; why do you want to buy more? You already have half a half dozen shirts, you want one more. You already have two pairs of show, and you want more. But I know I have two pairs of shoes, but I looking at this beautiful shoe, and my heart says, "Get that one also". What can I do?

God has made us as creatures who are able to enjoy the good things of God. Think about that. Our nature is like that; God has made it like that; so there is nothing wrong in legitimate enjoyment of the blessings of God in our lives. There is a thing that is called "good enjoyment of good things in life". So there are people that will criticize that, they will say, "well you don't need any more than what you need". We don't need a lot of things; some of you came with motorcycles, you don't need a motorcycle, you could have come by bus. You don't even need a bus; some of you live within 1 kilometer, you could have come by walk.

My grandfather went to a bullock cart as a government official, he was a government officer, went village by village as a revenue department official on a bullock cart officer. So certainly I would have come on a bullock cart this morning, I don't have to have any other vehicle other than that, and even that I don't need. If you don't about necessities it becomes ridiculous. So this is not talking about how you should not have anything more than what you basically need. Some talk as if this man built a bigger barn and God came down and called him a fool. "You fool you built a bigger barn, why do you need a bigger barn; you just need a smaller one. That's your problem". No, God did not call him a fool because he built a bigger barn - having a good yield in your crops is not a sin, doing your work properly...that man must have been diligent in his work, he must have been a smart guy, he must have been a hard working guy, he probably went to work in time, and managed his resources properly and put in so many hours every day; to have that kind of a crop where he doesn't have room to hold it; he is a successful guy, he is right about some things. I don't think God will condemn him for that. Then what is the problem with the guy? That he built bigger barns, that bigger barns show that he is greedy or something. No, he has got bigger barns...if he is greedy for building bigger barns then your retirement fund is a sin; your provident fund, your gratuity, and all your investments, your stocks, and your bonds, and everything that you have put planning for your retirement is bad and God will call you fool also for that. That man is simply making some arrangement for the future years of his life with the good blessings that has come to him/the good yield that has come to him; he is simply planning. Is there anything wrong with that? I say to you, there is nothing wrong with that. You know what is wrong with that guy? The plain truth is that his whole life philosophy is wrong. How do I know his life philosophy is wrong? His whole life philosophy and I can know it, because you look at verse 15, where Jesus says, "One's life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses" (you know what this guy's philosophy was; somewhere he has learnt it, I don't know which church he went to or I don't know who his friends are, what kind of society he grew up in. Somebody had taught him that if you have the possession of wealth, if you have money; enough money, and more than enough money, then you don't need anything. That's what life is all about. All you need to have is a heap of money, a ton of money, and then nothing more than that, you don't need anything more than that. That is a wrong philosophy; that's the end of the road. So when the guy built a bigger barn he thinks well it is over. That is why he said, "O my soul, be glad and rejoice", he says to his soul. "You have many goods laid up for many years, take your ease, eat and drink and be merry". Why does he say that: It's because, I have arrived. There is nothing more. What else do you want? All that you need is money: money, money, money. My name is Jimmy and give me all that you can. That kind of philosophy: money, money, money and I got all the money. I don't need anything more than money, after you have got enough money, you don't need anything else - that's the philosophy - that's a flawed philosophy, wrong philosophy and that is what Jesus is talking about: "A man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions". If you got all the money for the next 10 generations, if you sit back and say, "relax, you got it made, you don't need anything, you don't need anybody, you don't anything, you need a job, don't worry about anything; be happy" I'm certain today, God is going to call such a person, a "fool", because that's a wrong philosophy; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of things. That does not mean that you should not have things. The flaw is in thinking that life consist in the abundance of things - that's the flaw. Everything is not right, you need things - you need a house, you need a car, you need money - God is not against things and I will prove to you here, I will show it to you that the kind of thinking says, "all you need is money and nothing more. If you have got money, you got it made" - that kind of philosophy. His vision, his idea of human life and the spiritual character that has come out as a result in his life in the way of thinking is wrong.
Remember the story starts with the guy coming asking Jesus to solve a dispute. Nothing in that family - the father is dead. When a father dies in a home (now listen to me), what do the children do? As soon as the father dies and they go bury him, they don't say, "Take all the documents out, call the appraiser. Let's estimate how much he has left." They don't ask start it all immediately, they don't worry about such things immediately. First of all they think about the good times they spent with the father, how they miss the father now - the father has made the money, the father has built the house, the father has done everything for them; educated them, give them the good life, they think about how much they miss him; money doesn't seem as nearly as important as the father himself, the father is more important than the money. That is the way in any family, any children will think when their father dies. When a death has happened, that's the way they think. If you think any other way, something is wrong. But look at these fellows here; the father dies and what they are concerned about his money - my share, my percentage, he says, "Just come and be the arbitrator and get me my percentage that is due to me". Now there is nothing wrong in the guy wanting what belongs to him rightfully. There are two brothers and two of them must share 50% each. There is nothing wrong in that, and for him to expect what his father has left to come to him, there is nothing wrong. Do you know what is wrong there? The covetousness is wrong. When do you cross the line, when does this wanting your share of what your father left, becomes covetousness. Where do you cross the line, where does it become covetousness? When do you start coveting it? According to the story, covetousness is when you think that getting that money is the end of your existence. That's what life is all about. If you got that, that is enough; when you think that life is all about that - that's all it is, that the paramounting of your life - then that is where covetousness comes in. So the story begins like that - the story. Story begins with covetousness... this fellow or covetous brother is having difficulties because covetousness has brought this difficulty into this home. So Jesus instead of becoming an arbitrator and telling them how much shares each should have, He says, "Let me teach about covetousness". And He tells the story about covetousness.

So the whole story is about covetousness; and here we have the story about man's land gives a big yield and the man, and the man didn't even have a place to even put his grain and he had to build a bigger barn. And then he says to himself, "O my soul be at ease, eat and drink and be merry". Then only God says, "Fool, this night your soul will be required of you, then whose will those things be which you have provided". So what is wrong with this guy (I showed you) what is wrong with this guy, is not that he had built bigger barns, what is wrong is that he had a wrong idea of life itself; that life consists of possessions - abundance of possessions; exactly what Jesus is stating before he even began the parable, that is the whole point of the story. It is not about having abundance of possessions; Jesus did not tell the story to tell you that abundance of possessions is wrong; Jesus told the story saying that life does not consist in the abundance of your possessions. (two things that are very different). There is a big difference. Plus note this guy - this guy is a tragic guy really. Now Jesus says, "What will happen if you die today, who will have all of these". If you die today, (he has not thought about where he is going, that he is going to stand before God, that there is a judgement; all that he has never thought about. And who it's going to go to. All that he has not thought about. He has only thought about how he must enjoy this; that's all). So leave out the judgement, leave out the afterlife and all of that. Even if all that is not there, this fellow is tragic case, you know why? Because look at him, he is talking to himself in his heart. He doesn't have a wife...for example he is not looking at his wife and saying, "Dear wife, don't worry about anything. For the next few years I have already arranged for the all the finances to be in place, we will have no problem, so don't worry (I can appreciate that guy). He is at least talking to his wife, and saying: "Don't worry about anything we got it made. There is no problem, I got it arranged; I got all the finances and everything" Or if he is looking at his family - the children and saying, "Don't worry about anything, your fees will be paid, your education will be done, for everything I have made arrangement, whether I live or die everything will be met, do not worry about anything, I have taken care of everything". I can appreciate that kind of a father. But this guy is a tragic case, because he is not talking to his wife, he is not talking to his children. He is talking to himself; he is a character. I know this character. There are such people in this world; he is a character which says, "Everything is for me" There are two verses, and in those two verses two words are used; one is in verse 19, where it says, "Soul you have many goods laid up for your many years, take your ease, eat and drink and make merry". He is thinking only about himself. He is telling his soul, take your ease and eat and drink and be merry" and then in verse 21, where Jesus comments on this whole story, and he says, "so is he who lays his treasure for himself". So this guy is all about himself. He is telling himself: take it easy, be happy, don't worry, everything is all set, you know and so on. He is talking to himself. And then Jesus commenting on it, also says, "So is the person who lays up treasure for himself" So this is also a story about a person who lives for himself - the "himself" is the word, that is very important. It comes two times, showing that really it is all about him; the "I", "me only" philosophy. I can imagine what kind of a guy he was; he was the guy I often talk about where there are some people that have this philosophy of life that says, "Get what you can, can all you get, and sit on your can". Don't give it to anybody, just hoard everything; don't even tell your wife, don't even tell your children, they are after your money. They are all after your things. So just sit on it tight, don't give it to anybody. It all yours, these guys are all secretive. They talk to their own soul all the time. Take it easy, be happy, don't worry, I got it made. And it must be a very sad case, because he can't even talk to his wife, he can't talk to his children, he doesn't even seem to have friend. He has got grain filling in the barns and no room in the barn. I don't think he invites anybody for dinner. He is not even able to talk to the friends; he is the guy who talks to himself, because he is the guy who only thinks about himself, lives for himself. Only the "I", "me", my welfare, my future, my thing is his concern. He is the selfish me, I, type of person, and that is one of the reasons that he is a fool. I think if God met someone like that today, He will call him a fool. He is a fool. Why? Because what is the use of having so much money and everything, and you have to talk to yourself. Something is seriously wrong. If you have everything in the world and you don't even have a person talk to you...your wife doesn't want not come anywhere near you, and your children don't want to come anywhere near you and no friends doesn't want not...you have nobody to talk to. You have not maintained any friendship, any relationship; then what the money has done is it has brought in some bad elements into that person. This is not true dominion, dignity and delight. He has got money, but that is not is not dominion, dignity and delight that God is talking about in the Genesis 1, and in the Promised Land delight; not that kind of delight, not that kind of dignity or dominion.

The kind of dominion, dignity and delight that God is talking about is true dominion, true delight, true dignity where a man has everything in order, where there is total success, there is good success - success in every area of his life. What the bible is talking about is not just having enough money. That is what Jesus meant when he said, "a man's life does not just consist in the abundance of his possessions". You say you have got all the money that I need for 10 generations, but the problem is nobody can live with me, I am such a hard person; nobody can get along with me; my wife doesn't want to get along with me, my children don't want to see me; I can't go be with anybody; I can't have anything to do with anybody. Then that is not a success; that is not dominion, dignity and delight. That is not what God intended at all. And that is what is being criticized here. Jesus is not calling the rich man fool; he is calling him fool because he is like this; that is the only reason. Now let's go on a little more because here He says, in verse 22. In 21, the story does not end, where Jesus says, "So is he who lays out treasure to himself, and he is not rich towards God". In other words He says, 'Everyone who does this kind of a thing and is not rich towards God, is a fool". That is what the verse means literally, and then verse 22, then He said to His disciples, "Therefore I say unto you, (now this is a continuation....having said all this he says, "Therefore...on the basis to what I have said), I say to you, "Do not worry about your life, what you will eat, nor what the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens for they neither sow nor reap, they have no store room or barn, and God feeds them. Or how much more valuable you are than birds. And which of you, by worrying, can add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? Consider the lilies how they grow. They neither toil, nor spin, and yet I say to you that even Solomon and of all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Even then if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today exists, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith? Do not seek what you should eat nor what you should eat, nor have an anxious mind, for all these things the nations of the world seek after, it is the Gentile people that do not know God seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the Kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you." I read it as far as this. You know why?
Because God is not against you having everything that you have, and more.

God is not against you having abundance. God is not against you having material prosperity. God says, "You seek the Kingdom of God, all these things shall be added unto you". When God says He will meet your need, believe me, He will meet your needs according to His standards. When you and I take our children to the mall, we can only buy according to how much we have in the bank... how much you got in the pocket, you know. When Bill Gates takes the child to the mall, he can even buy the mall for the child if the child wants; because that guy is loaded with money. And then God takes you to the market, He is millions of times bigger than Bill Gates or anybody. When He says, I will meet your needs, you will seek the kingdom/keep on seeking the Kingdom and all these things shall be given unto you. I tell you His level of meeting your needs will put you on that level which Genesis 1 and 2 talks about. And nothing else.

So I say to you, this whole narrative is not narrative that is anti-material prosperity. It is for true dominion, true dignity, and true delight. And against the wrong kind of dominion, wrong kind of dignity, and wrong kind of delight. It is a story about covetousness. This is not a story against material prosperity which is a blessing of God. It is about the wrong kind of emphasis in life, wrong kind of philosophy, where you think money is everything; that's a biblical perspective.

Let me just touch on another story just for 5 minutes and then finish: Chapter 16 - Now because we have talked about this story, lots of things, and I do not want to touch on those things again. But I just want to point out just one simple matter here; the Rich man-Lazarus story, many times I have dealt with it in so many ways, we have seen it. But look at this now; the Rich man- Lazarus story. Lots of people look at this story and say, 'O this man was rich, and he was enjoying life at the best. He was having everything, he was sitting at the table, eating sumptuous food. Look at the descriptions; it's amazing you know. The guy was having a good time; eating and drinking - again and again, the eating and drinking thing comes. Even in the passage that we just read in Chapter 12 - the eating and drinking, the man had too much grain, he had a barn, for what? This is about eating and drinking, and when Jesus says, "Don't worry about what you will eat and drink". You see the eating and drinking is a theme throughout this whole book if you look at it that way. And now again we come to the same thing. In Chapter 16, where Jesus talks about Richman and Lazarus. The story actual begins in verse 19, where there is a rich man clothes in purple, fine linen, and fared sumptiously every day; that means he ate very well every day. And there was a beggar named Lazarus who was laid at the gate, desiring to be fed with the cramps that fell from the Richman's table. Now, you know the rest of the story; how the two of them died and the biggest thing in the story is how their fortunes changed, that the poor man ended up in heaven, and the rich man ended up in the hell/hades.

One fellow said, "The poor man became rich, and the rich man became poor". He said, "Wait until Jesus comes brother, this is what is going to happen: Every rich man will become poor and poor man will become rich". Well that is over simplification again, because the poor man who became rich landed up in Abraham's bosom, and who was Abraham? He was rich. What was he doing in heaven? So it is not true to say that all poor will become rich, and all rich will become poor. Because the rich went to heaven; Lazarus probably looked at him and said, "How come you are here? They told me you won't be here". It is hard for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God. A Carmel can go through a needles' eyes, but not a rich man. But that's where it says, "With God all things are possible". In that same story. Alright, all that we have seen before. But the context is very important; what is the story is all about? Is this story trying to say; if you are rich you will go to hell, and if you are poor you will go to heaven? That your fortunes are going to completely turn around, reversed in other words. Is that the moral of the story? Is this why Jesus told the story? See, a lot of people just take the story from verse 19 and interpret but they do not understand why He told the story in the first place. What is the point that He is trying to make? Look at chapter 16 verses 14, Look at this, "Now the Pharisees who were lovers of money, also heard all of these things and they derided Him (that means they laughed at him, they were mocking him, one translation says). What story did they hear? They heard the first story in the Chapter; the story of the Unjust Steward, a manager who cheated his boss, and then he reformed his ways, and corrected his course of life, and then in that story he is appreciated and so on, and he changes. And that story that goes from verse 1 to 13 - that story is also about material things. And the right attitude towards material things; is about how a man had a wrong attitude, how he cheated his boss to make money, and then how he changed; just like Zacchaeus and he came to his senses and became right with regard with finances. So the story ends like this, "No servant can serve two masters (verse 13), for he either hate the other or love the other; or he will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Mammon (or material things that's what Mammon is, all kinds of material things). That's where the story ends. So that is the story about covetousness once again. Covetousness making a man to steal, cheat his boss, do all kinds of illegal things, to get ahead in life - changing, transforming, (just like Zacchaeus), finally Jesus gives the moral of the story; no man can serve two masters, can't serve God and worldly goods. And the Pharisees who heard it, they were lovers of money - the bible describes them as lovers of money. The Pharisees, they had all these things and they mocked Jesus. Now this is what gave rise to this parable - within the next 4 - 5 verses, Jesus taught this story. Why? Because they were mocking Him, He had to tell the story. In the story He categorizes this Pharisees, as the Rich Man. The Rich Man in the story is likened to the Pharisee - He is having the Pharisees in the mind - Jesus was having the Pharisees in mind when He talked about the Rich Man and Lazarus. He is thinking of the Pharisees when he thought about the rich man. In other words, just like this man in the story, the rich man was eating and drinking, enjoying his life at his table, while the other man was at his table, begging. And went all the way down to hell in the end. These Pharisees were eating and drinking their way to hell. Their kind of way of eating and drinking is wrong. It's not that they were rich, but they were lovers of money, that was wrong. They had the wrong approach to money, wrong thought about money, wrong philosophy about money that was wrong. And Jesus was condemning that the rich man did not go to hell because he was rich; the rich went to hell (you know why?), because there was a poor man at his gate, whom he knew by name as Lazarus; he did not do anything to uplift him in the all of his life. He was a rich man, and here was a poor man (he calls him Lazarus from hell. He says, "Tell Lazarus, let him deep his finger in water and bring it to me".) He knows Lazarus so well. Lazarus belongs to his community. He is a man at his gate all the time, he knows him to call him by his name. Yet the story does not even mention that this man ever gave food to him. It only says that this ate sumptuous at his table, while Lazarus was waiting for some things to drop from his table - some pieces of meat to drop from his table. He could have given him a plate of food. Doesn't look like he did that. This guy is just waiting for something to drop. His money and his wealth has made him arrogant, and even in hell he is arrogant. He says, "Tell him to dip his finger". Who are you man? Is Lazarus your servant? Look at his arrogance. "Tell him to deep his finger and put it in my tongue". He is not your servant. Abraham said, "No nothing doing, no one can come there?" He said, "at least send Lazarus to my house", again arrogance. He thinks Lazarus will go wherever he sends him. Tell Lazarus to go and tell my five brothers so that they do not end up here. Abraham says, "No, no Lazarus can't go there and tell them, because they have Moses and the prophets (that is the Old Testament). Let them read the Old Testament and understand, and obey." They will do alright, they won't end there. Because in the Old Testament it's full of economic laws. If anybody obeys the Old Testament economic laws of forgiving debts, helping the poor, the Old Testament law says (Deuteronomy 15:4 says, "There shall not be any poor among you" - that's God will, that's God vision for the nation of Israel, that's God's vision for humanity when He made them. "There shall not be any poor among you". But there were poor in Israel when Jesus came. Why? Because of wretchedness of their thinking, the looting mentality - the kind of thinking that some of the rich people had, where they were took from others, would not lend a helping hand, will not even feed a man that's at their gate, within reach that they know so well.

The entire basis for social work in Christianity is this fact: that we look upon anybody and everybody belonging to any religion, caste, or creed, whatever they may be. They may not be believing in Christ and so on. When we look at a person who is suffering, we feel that we must do something. That is why there are schools, there are colleges, help available in all kinds of form, Christians reach out to lift that guy, because he is down and out and needs a hand to come up and they give a hand to come up. Because our economic philosophy comes from the bible. That is why Abraham from Heaven says, "They have Moses and the Prophets (what does it mean?) He means, "You read Moses and Prophets but never obeyed. If you obeyed you would have fed this man. You would have taken care of this man. There were Moses and the Prophets, and there is Moses in Deuteronomy that said, "There shall not be any poor among you. You shall forgive the debts of the poor. You shall return the land and the house, if the poor is not able to pay back to you. No man can lose his life. You never followed those economic laws; that is why you are there in hell", he says. Tell them to read the Old Testament and if they follow the economic laws, they won't end up here; they will be more courteous, more kind, more gracious, more compassionate to the poor, they will obey the Laws of God, he says. That's the answer actually. So he says, "No, no, it's not like that, if someone goes from the dead alive like Lazarus and he tells them, they will believe. He says, "If they don't believe Moses and the prophets, they will not believe even if a man goes from the dead, and tells them.

The whole narrative is about covetousness. It is not about if you are rich you will go to hell. No, that is the worst way to interpret that. The whole narrative is not about how if you are rich you will go to hell. The whole narrative is about if you are rich, be rich in the right way. There is a right way to be rich, and a wrong way to be rich. Be rich in the right way; if you are rich in the right way; if you listen to Moses and the prophets and do what they say, you will not end up there. That's the message there. It doesn't say that he went to hell because he was rich. It says he went to hell because he read Moses and the prophets and never did what they taught. That is the reason. So I say to you, God's plan hasn't changed. He gave dominion, dignity and delight. He wants for you and I, dominion, dignity and delight. True dominion; see what this rich man was having was not true dominion, as he sat at his table, and he ate sumptuously; it looked like dominion, dignity and delight. It is not; it is false dignity, false dominion, and false delight. The true dominion, dignity and delight is the way that God wants you to enjoy His blessings in your life.

Amen. Shall we all stand up together. Let's lift up our hands and give thanks to God. Father God in the Name of Jesus, we come, we thank You Lord, we receive this truth into our hearts today. What a great and Mighty God you are; your thoughts about us are good; wonderful thoughts to do us good. Thank you because dominion, dignity and delight is ours because you have given it to us. It is our right in this world. It's God's gift to us. That as we enjoy dominion, dignity and delight we also need to think about others, who are down and out there; And down and out, lift them to the place of dominion, dignity and delight - because that is your will also, that is your plan and purpose. You bless us so that we can be a blessing. I pray that this truth of God's Word will enter into every heart and transform lives and lead them into greater and greater blessings so that they can be a blessing to others in a greater way. We give you all the glory and honour, and praise that the word continue to influence and work and transform the hearts of people. In Jesus name we pray. Now May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit abide with each and every one of us, for now and forever more. Amen.

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