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Rich in Good Works
‘Charge them that are rich in the present world, that they do good, that they be rich in good works, that they be ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying up for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on the life which is life indeed.’—1 Tim. 6:18
If women are to regard good work as their adornment, men are to count them their riches. As good works satisfy woman’s eye and taste for beauty, they meet man’s craving for possession and power. In the present world riches have a wonderful significance. They are often God’s reward on diligence, industry, and enterprise. They represent and embody the life-power that has been spent in procuring them. As such they exercise power in the honour or service they secure from others. Their danger consists in their being of this world, in their drawing off the heart from the living God and the heavenly treasures. They may become a man’s deadliest enemy: How 96 hardly shall they that have riches enter the kingdom of heaven!
The gospel never takes away anything from us without giving us something better in its stead. It meets the desire for riches by the command to be rich in good works. Good works are the coin that is current in God’s kingdom: according to these will be the reward in the world to come. By abounding in good works we lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven. Even here on earth they constitute a treasure, in the testimony of a good conscience, in the consciousness of being well-pleasing to God (1 John 3) in the power of blessing others.
There is more. Wealth of gold is not only a symbol of the heavenly riches; it is actually, though so opposite in its nature, a means to it. ‘Charge the rich that they do good, that they be ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying up for themselves a good foundation.’ ‘Make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness, that, when it fails, they may receive you into the eternal tabernacles.’ Even as the widow’s mite, the gifts of the rich, when given in the same spirit, may be an offering with which God is well pleased (Heb. 13:16). The man who is rich in money may become rich in good 97 works, if he follows out the instructions Scripture lays down. The money must not be given to be seen of men but as unto the Lord. Nor as from an owner, but a steward who administers the Lord’s money, with prayer for His guidance. Nor with any confidence in its power or influence, but in deep dependence on Him who alone can make it a blessing. Nor as a substitute for, or bringing out from that personal work and witness, which each believer is to give. As all Christian work, so our money-giving has its value alone from the spirit in which it is done, even the spirit of Christ Jesus.
What a field there is in the world for accumulating these riches, these heavenly treasures. In relieving the poor, in educating the neglected, in helping the lost, in bringing the gospel to Christians and heathen in darkness, what investment might be made if Christians sought to be rich in good works, rich toward God. We may well ask the question, What can be done to waken among believers a desire for these true riches? Men have made a science of the wealth of nations, and carefully studied all the laws by which its increase and universal distribution can be promoted. How can the charge to be rich in good works find a response in the hearts that its pursuit shall 98 be as much a pleasure and a passion as the desire for the riches of the present world?
All depends upon the nature, the spirit, there is in man. To the earthly nature, earthly riches have a natural affinity and irresistible attraction. To foster the desire for the acquisition of what constitutes wealth in the heavenly kingdom, we must appeal to the spiritual nature. That spiritual nature needs to be taught and educated and trained into all the business habits that go to make a man rich. There must be the ambition to rise above the level of a bare existence, the deadly contentment with just being saved. There must be some insight into the beauty and worth of good works as the expression of the Divine life—God’s working in us and our working in Him; as the means of bringing glory to God; as the source of life and blessing to men; as the laying up of a treasure in heaven for eternity. There must be a faith that these riches are actually within our reach, because the grace and Spirit of God are working in us. And then the outlook for every opportunity of doing the work of God to those around us, in the footsteps of Him who said, ‘It is more blessed to give than receive.’ Study and apply these principles—they will open the sure road to your becoming a rich man. A man who 99 wants to be rich often begins on a small scale, but never loses an opportunity. Begin at once with some work of love, and ask Christ, who became poor, that you might be rich, to help you.
1. What is the cause that the appeal for money for missions meets with such insufficient response? It is because of the low spiritual state of the Church. Christians have no due conception of their calling to live wholly for God and His kingdom.
2. How can the evil be remedied? Only when believers see and accept their Divine calling to make God’s kingdom their first care, and with humble confession of their sins yield themselves to God, will they truly seek the heavenly riches to be found in working for God.
3. Let us never cease to plead and labour for a true spiritual awakening throughout the Church.
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