Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
303-665-6105
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October 21 – Pentecost 20 – Mark 10:23-31 – The Treacherous Idolatry Of Wealth

Introduction:  Grace be to you and peace, from God our Father, and from our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Our text is the Gospel Lesson just read from Mark 10.  We begin with prayer.

Dear fellow disciples of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ:

  • The teachings of Jesus in our text are among the most intolerable and detestable teachings of God’s Word, especially for people living in a wealthy, capitalistic, consumer driven, and epicurean culture – like ours.  The wisdom that He imparts – as well as that shared by Solomon in the Old Testament Lesson, are to a large degree completely contrary to the values and ambitions that we have been imbued with as Americans. 
  • As such they grate on me – and put me between a rock and a hard place.  It is assumed – and it is cherished “common sense wisdom” – that we should be ambitious to provide as much as we can for ourselves and also for our families, our spouse, parents, and children.  Yet Jesus warns: “how difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God.”  And Solomon warns that “he who loves money will not be satisfied with money.”  
  • Still, even within the church many people elevate themselves over others on the basis of their “earnings” and wealth – and even that of their children, demonstrating that they thoroughly disagree with the wisdom of both Solomon and Jesus,  and have taught their children the same.  So there is a strong deterrent both within us, and from those around us – even within the church, to actually listening to and taking seriously the teaching of Jesus.  All of this constitutes “THE TREACHEROUS IDOLATRY OF WEALTH.”
  • But we have these Words of our dear Lord and Savior in front of us, and we must do something with them for we seek to be His disciples, those who believe in Him.  And He makes it clear that:

 

I.  Wealth Is Actually A Dangerous Thing

A.  It Makes It Virtually Impossible To Enter Into The Kingdom Of  God

  

 Text:  “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter  kingdom of God. . . .  It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

 

B.  Further, The Desire For And Love Of Money Is Like Chasing The Wind – The Wealthy Are Never Satisfied By Their Wealth

 

 OT Lesson:  “He who loves money will not be satisfied with  money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.”

 

C.  Worst Of All, The Desire For And Love Of Money Destroys One’s Ability to Do Good – Other Than For Ulterior Motives, And Not Out Of   Real Love

 

Matt. 6:24  “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate  the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

 

 Matt. 6:33  “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

 

Statement:

  • All of this is quite simple – though we would like it to be nuanced.  We get up in the morning and have two choices:  we either serve God, or we serve money.  Our day is going to be about God or about wealth. 
  • So we all get around to resolving this – I’m going to serve God, but in so doing I still get a pretty decent pay check.  So what to do with it?  If we spend it on ourselves – holding back on our offerings, not doing much for the poor, heaping up luxuries for ourselves, well then it is pretty apparent as to what we are serving.
  • If we save it up and hoard it – but living a relatively conservative lifestyle, and not spending it on ourselves, but amassing it into accounts for later consumption, well then it is pretty apparent as to what we are serving.  And it will do us no good to say:  “Well, I’ll give it away later.”  No, God has given it to you now and you have it now – it will be used either to serve God and His kingdom and His purposes NOW, OR you’ll use it on yourself or save it for later.  Either way, it is apparent where your love and devotion is. 

 

Application:

  • I am no different than you are in this matter – and I face the same choices.  The checkbook is laying there along with my offering envelope.  What amount will I write in?  What are the reasons for the amount?  OR, perhaps there is a good cause that I become aware of – people are in need and suffering, or I have opportunity to give to a Lutheran college or seminary.  I must make a decision – and just how much am I willing to take out of my account to love others with?  What is my logic in determining the amount – does it have anything to do with “minimizing” the impact on my efforts to “save,” “amass,” “hoard,” or spend on my own desires and luxuries?
  • So the reality stands – whether we are willing to admit it or not – that wealth is dangerous in that it becomes a “god” to us, wiggling its way into our hearts as the first priority in our lives.   

 

Transition:  We see the contrast to this in our text as well – in the example of the disciples, although they seem also concerned about gaining something personally for their discipleship.  But Jesus makes it clear that:

 

II.  Those Who Enter Into His Kingdom And His Service – All Who Follow Him As Disciples Through Faith In Him – Leave All Personal Wealth Behind

        

A.  They Leave All Possessions Behind – House And Land

 

Text:  Jesus spoke of those who have “left house . . . or lands for His sake and for the gospel.”

 

B.  They Leave Relationships Behind – Making Them Of Secondary Importance

 

Text:  Jesus spoke of those who have “left brothers or sisters or mother or father or children for His sake and for the gospel.”

 

C.  They Are Willing To Take On Troubles And Difficulties In This Life, And Even To Suffer Persecutions

 

Text:  Jesus adds that in addition to leaving these things behind, which causes us some difficulties, we instead gain “persecutions” in this life

 

D.  They Do This, Leaving All Behind, Because They Are Seeking Something Beyond This Life – Christ’s Kingdom

 

Text:  Jesus says that along with persecutions, those who truly follow Him will also receive “in the age to come, eternal life.”

 

So we read of this “changed” perspective in the Epistle Lesson, and are encouraged not to fall away back into the idolatry of loving wealth and sinful pleasures:

 

Epistle:  “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.  For the Word of God is  living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and  DISCERNING THE THOUGHTS AND INTENTIONS OF THE  HEART.  NO CREATURE IS HIDDEN FROM HIS SIGHT, BUT ALL ARE NAKED AND EXPOSED TO THE EYES OF HIM TO WHOM WE MUST GIVE ACCOUNT.”

 

 Statement:

  • We can work hard to fool ourselves in regard to our true devotion and love – whether to God, or to ourselves and our wealth building.  We can fool others – giving this or that, and making sure others notice, but in a way calculated to cause the least damage to our efforts to become or to remain wealthy.  BUT, we can never fool God – and in the end He is the only One that matters. 


Application:

  • So, where there is need to repent and to return to Christ our first love, let’s get with it.  His forgiveness is there for us to grasp, and it is full and complete forgiveness and pardon.  However, His call to forgiveness is also a call to follow Him, and to seek first His kingdom, to “leave all behind and to follow Him.” 
  • Yes, we still need to take care of our basic needs and responsibilities – but we do so with the minimum, looking to live frugally so that we can be generous in supporting Christ’s kingdom and the ministry of the Gospel, and caring for those in real and genuine need.  We do so because we love the Lord, and because we understand the powerful temptation to the idolatry of wealth!  And we do not want to serve anyone or anything but Christ alone!

 

Conclusion:  So let us take care, dear friends in Christ, as to which path we are following, as to Who we are truly serving in our daily lives!  Amen.

 

Votum:  And the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in the true faith, which is in Christ Jesus, even unto life everlasting, Amen.