In the great book, IT ALL GOES BACK IN THE BOX, Pastor John Ortberg tells of the tale of two men: the famous billionaire industrialist, Armand Hammer (Occidental Petroleum Company) and the unknown Christian pauper, Larry Clarke. Both men died in the same decade. Their stories are so interesting.
Larry served at Willow Creek Community church for no pay. He never married, never owned a home and never went on any expensive vacations. What he did do was befriend and disciple lonely, discouraged people. He told them what they could be in Christ.
He died suddenly and tragically as a result of a traffic accident - he was hit by a bus while jogging. When they had his funeral, eight hundred people stood in line for three hours to honor him and pay their last respects. Untold scores of people shared how Larry had touched their lives with his love and care and giving of himself.
Armand was called by USA Today a "giant of capitalism and confidante of world leaders." He achieved SO MUCH money, power, success and fame. He had EVERYTHING the world says one needs to be happy and fulfilled in this life. However, that is a lie. Armand Hammer was a miserable man. He was a terrible husband, father, boss, and friend. He filed a $667,000 claim against his brother's $700,000 estate rather than disbursing it to his brother's children and nursing home-bound wife.
When Armand Hammer died, very few people attended his funeral to pay their respects. Hammer's own son Julian did not attend, nor did members of his brothers' families. His pallbearers were his chauffeur, his male nurse, and other personal employees on the payroll.
And you know what else? When the billionaire died, he left every dollar of his vast wealth here on earth. He died the same way he was born: totally naked.
Which one of these two men do you think died rich toward God? Which of these two men received a "well done" from God? Which of these two men was truly a success in the eyes of the King?
ARE YOU RICH TOWARD GOD?
I have a sneaking suspicion that great numbers of people who claim to be believers in Jesus are more like Armand Hammer than they are Larry Clarke when it comes to money and possessions. We tend to be people who are bent toward greed, stinginess and the love of money. We tend to lose sight of what really matters in life. of what really lasts. And what is that? God, His Word, and people are the only things that last forever.
As those who have been bought with a price, the blood of God's only Son, we are called to love God and use money to glorify Him. Sadly, many people love money and use God. How do you and I break this tendency we all have to worship money and things?
Jesus said, "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Put your treasure in the Kingdom of God. and your heart will follow. Honor God from your wealth. and He will honor you (1 Sam. 2:30).
In these days of financial uncertainty, DO NOT give in to fear and start short-changing God. In days like these, we need to be faithful to God more than ever. God is not looking for creativity or ingenuity. He is looking for folks who will trust Him and be faithful to Him regardless of the circumstances.
Jeff Schreve is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Texarkana, Texas. He and his wife Debbie have been married for over 20 years and are blessed with three wonderful girls. Jeff began From His Heart Ministries, a radio and television ministry, in January of 2005. This ministry is completely listener/viewer supported. It continues only through the faithful and generous gifts of people like you. Pastor Jeff takes no salary from this ministry. All gifts go to further the broadcast.