Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any man would have riches and prosperity, he only needs to say the word. For whoever wants to prosper in his life will find a way, but whoever sacrifices himself will just be miserable. It’s possible for a man to gain the whole world, if he’s truly spiritual. You don’t have to compromise a thing to get rich.”
Matthew 16:24-26, Reversed Fractured Version
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Matthew 16:24-26, NIV
Some people will tell you that perpetual prosperity, riches, health, and good times are your rightful heritage in this life. Do not believe them. If this is true, then why did Jesus die on the cross and not retire as a millionaire? If this is true, why did Paul live from hand to mouth as a tentmaker, and why was he beset with dangers all about? If this is true, then how can Hebrews chapter 11 be explained?
God has commissioned you as a steward of His bounty and as an agent of His providence, to bring many souls to glory. A cashier who dips into the till is not rewarded at payday. There is a penalty for early withdrawal.
Some people tell you to dread bad times, to deny that you have adversity, to ignore misfortune, as if you have the power to make things disappear by simply closing your eyes. I say that is a trap and if you follow their advice, you will be overwhelmed.
- Confess your sins to God as you become aware of them. You cannot overcome what you refuse to acknowledge.
- Thank God for all things, especially adversity, because only in hardship can you experience God’s providence, only in adversity can you demonstrate God’s grace, only if you are wronged can you show God’s forgiveness. Therefore, be defiant in these things, thank God for them, for God has given them to you to prove yourself worthy.
- When bad times cease, do not be puffed up with pride that you have finally come into your own. If you forget the lessons you have learned, you will have to repeat the course.
- Remember that your Lord loved sinners so much that He gave His life for them. Jesus will really be ticked off if He finds you hurting the little ones for whom He died. Remember that you are one of those sinners yourself. Therefore, do not become self-righteous and judge sinners, for in judging them you deprecate Jesus’ sacrifice and condemn yourself. You have no right to hold things against people, if you yourself escaped your debts through mercy.
- You will have troubles in this world, but do not be troubled, Jesus has already overcome the world.
- Pray constantly. God does not need the information, but you do. You will never be able to discern God’s will and providence in your life if you do not pray for specific needs and view the world through your prayer life.
- If you laugh at Adam’s fig leaf, do not wear one of your own. If you festoon your prayers with fake King James English or pious phrases, and it prevents you from getting down to brass tacks and talking over substantive things with God, your prayers are a waste of time.
- Don’t look for a good worship experience at church. That’s blasphemous! Only God is supposed to have a good worship experience. You are supposed to be performing the worship, not experiencing it. Therefore, when you worship, do not make God stand in a corner or ask Him to be content with overheard praise. It’s rude to go to someone’s house and then refuse to address them directly. Praise God, thank God, pray to God, sing to God, but whatever you do, make God the object of your worship. Theology can be taught at a seminary. Fellowship can be enjoyed at a block party. Family values can be cultivated at home. Public service can be done by the Jaycees. All of these things can be done at church, and it is good if they are done at church, but if you do not worship God at church, why do you need a church?
- The church has no shortage of opinionated theologians. Don’t make the glut any worse! What we really need are people with vibrant faith. We have too many scholars and not enough saints. Therefore be a saint.
- Jesus loves you, this I know because the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. You are weak, but He is strong. If your best friend is wealthy, you do not need to be concerned with your poverty. You do not need to be strong or successful or smart or rich, and you do not need to know all the answers—if you have a personal relationship with the One who is strong, successful, smart, rich, and who does know all the answers.
- Little children, do not squabble. Jesus gave you one command, and it was not “Know all theology” or “Win all arguments” or “Set the world straight about sin” — He said, “Love one another.” Therefore love one another.