Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” [Luke 12:15]
Even if a person has an abundance, his real life has nothing to do with his possessions. This also means that any amount of possessions one may possess does not define one’s life.
The life the Lord Jesus is referring to is something beyond mere possessions. If a real believer has only the clothes on his or her back, he or she has life.
Consider having the bare minimum to sustain oneself. It is obvious that we need shelter, food, and clothing. But have you ever noticed all these things are only for the physical body? Our soul and spirit have no need of such things. The more we pare down our possessions, the more we realize we did not actually need all that much. And the more we have, the more we have to pay for what we have, and the more we have to earn money to pay for what we have, and the more time we must spend working to earn money to pay for what we have, and the more our possessions and the pursuit of more possessions subtract from our spiritual life.
Do Christians in general spend the majority of their time doing secular work of some kind or another to earn money to pay for possessions that they don’t actually need and thereby neglect the needs of their spiritual responsibilities?
And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.’” But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” [Luke 12:16-21]
Boy Howdy, that’s a bad scene, man…
And it appears to be the scene of many Christians in first-world countries.
Just what are true riches? Can we glean from the teachings, lifestyle, and example of the Lord Jesus what it means to be “rich toward God?”
We know He worked very hard. We also know He didn’t have much stuff. He kept telling people to sell their possessions and give to the poor, which means He must have already done the same, if He ever had much to begin with.
What did He do with His money?
Here’s something to consider: For the most part, modern missionaries have to pay their own way. They must plan their trips to foreign countries and raise their own funding, unless they have some cushy ministry job that rarely makes a difference. The best ministers are indigenous. They know the language and customs. They need little funding.
The Bible states that all real believers are called to some form of ministry, but ninety-nine percent of all real believers support themselves. Only the very, very few derive their living from ministry work, and must consider themselves extremely blessed. Some ministers are very, very wealthy. Others have zip.
What did Jesus have?
He had no retirement. Our God required a borrowed tomb at His death, and it was only “borrowed” because He would only need it for about three days. He required support from others in His ministry, as is perfectly illustrated in the following:
Soon afterwards, He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means. [Luke 8:1-3]
It is obvious that these women supported the Lord and His ministry because He saved them from gross evil and demonic attack. They would have ended up in hell without Him. They were forgiven much and they loved much as a result. They knew His ministry worked. They knew He had the goods to set people free because they had been set free.
They were rich toward God.
Regardless of how much pain and disillusionment it may cost, the facts are very clear that the greater percentage of Christian ministries and ministers do not have the goods to set people free. Therefore, those who support them are not rich toward God. They are a bad investment. The money going to them should go to real ministers of the gospel and real ministries.
What does a real minister on the cutting edge of real ministry with the power and authority of God look like? What is his lifestyle? What does he possess? What is his passion?
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you. But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I BELIEVED, THEREFORE I SPOKE,” we also believe, therefore we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. [2 Corinthians 4:7-18] 
The apostle Paul and all the real believers of the first century were rich toward God.
They gave it all.
As a result, the early church grew closer together in true community and love. That which the Lord began building then has continued to be built throughout the twenty centuries since. It is an invisible kingdom growing toward a completion point that only those within it perceive. It is all around us every day.
The devil’s kingdom is going in the opposite direction because it is inhabited and supported by people who are not rich toward God.
It’s fixin’ to blow up real good.
© 2011 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [Part 3 of 3]
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.