Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as it was written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses twenty-two through forty-eight of the twelfth chapter of this New Testament book. “And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat: neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? And which of you taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I sayu not you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven: how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Luke 12:22-34).
“Let your loins be birded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say un to you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not” (Luke 12:35-40).
“Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all? And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath. But and if that servant sayi n his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall began to beat the mnservants and maidens, and to eat and rink, and to be drunketn; the lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelivers. And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more” (Luke 12:41-48).
“Lay not up for yourselves treasure upon earth, where moth and rus doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness” (Matthew 6:19-23).
“NO man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto your, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do thy reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink? Or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6;24-34).
When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find a continuation of that which was previously written and recorded in the New Testament gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew. As you come to and approach this passage of text you will find another account of the words which Jesus spoke when delivering the Sermon on the Mount. Having already spoken unto the disciples concerning giving, prayer, forgiveness and fasting we find Jesus transitioning the narrative to something that cuts directly to the heart and soul of what is found within the hearts of countless men and women. Having just finished speaking unto His disciples and followers concerning those things and areas in which men draw near unto and approach the Father Jesus then takes a different turn and instructs those who heard and listened to His words and voice to not lay up for themselves treasure upon the earth where moth and rust corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. It is actually quite remarkable and astounding when you think about and consider the words which are found here in this portion of Scripture, for it is something which must needs be recognized and understood within our own hearts and lives. Perhaps one of the greatest questions we have need of asking ourselves is where our treasure is—and not only where our treasure is, but also what our treasure is. I am absolutely and completely convinced that we not only need to ask ourselves where our treasure is, but there is a great and present need within our hearts and lives to understand and recognize what our treasure is. Jesus makes it perfectly and abundantly clear that we are not to lay up for ourselves treasure here upon the earth, and He goes on to describe what happens when we lay up treasure for ourselves here upon the earth, for Jesus speaks of moth and trust corrupting, and where thieves break in and steal. Oh it is absolutely necessary that we recognize and pay close and careful attention to these words, for they call and draw our attention to the true nature and condition of our heart—particularly and especially when we consider the fact that Jesus goes on to emphatically and unreservedly declares that where our treasure is, there will our heart also be. Oh dear brother, oh dear sister—please make absolutely no mistake about it, for wherever your treasure is, there you can undoubtedly rest assured and know that your heart will be there as will.
YOUR HEART FOLLOWS YOUR TREASURE! YOUR HEART IS DIRECTLY CONNECTED TO YOUR TREASURE! If we are truly honest with ourselves after having read the words which are found within this portion of Scripture we must admit and acknowledge that what Jesus does indeed and does in fact say is true, for where our treasure is—regardless of where that treasure actually is, our heart will be intrinsically and inextricably linked and connected to it. We dare not and must not think, nor even believe for a minute that our hearts are and can somehow be detached from the treasure it holds dear to, nor even where that treasure is. We would like to think that we can somehow detach our hearts from that which we view and value as treasure within our lives, and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply is not and cannot be the case. It is absolutely impossible to separate our hearts from what our treasure is and what we view and value as treasure—regardless of where that treasure is actually found and where it is housed. It is absolutely and utterly impossible to separate our hearts from that which we view and value as treasure, for it has the underlying ability to influence and impact our heart from the inside out. In all reality, we must needs recognize and understand that although we are instructed to lay up for ourselves treasure in heaven rather than laying up for ourselves treasure upon the earth, our hearts will be intrinsically linked and connected to that which we view and value as treasure. Show me where your treasure is and I will show you where your heart truly is within this life; show me what your treasure is within this life and I will show you the true nature and condition of your heart. This particular reality must be recognized and understood, for what we find within the opening verses of the twelfth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke is an incredibly powerful portrait and picture of one who not only laid up treasure for themselves within the earth, but one who also valued that treasure within the earth and sought to increase it in great measure. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke beginning to read with and from the thirteenth verse:
“And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: For a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:13-21).
Please don’t miss the incredible and tremendous language that is found within this portion and passage of Scripture, for the words which we find here brings us face to face with the incredibly awesome and powerful danger of covetousness—and not only covetousness, but also how it directly influences and impacts our lives. Within this portion and passage of the Scripture we find Jesus concluding by speaking of those who lay up treasure for themselves within the earth and who are not rich towards God. I am absolutely convinced we must needs recognize and pay close and careful attention to these words, for they call and force us into a place where we are to deliberately and intentionally choose where we lay up treasure, what we view and value as treasure, and the direct contrast between laying up treasure for ourselves here upon the earth and being rich toward God. In all reality, there is a tremendous dichotomy and disparity that is found within this portion and passage of Scripture, for what we find here is a powerful contrast between being rich here within and upon the earth and yet being poor toward God. Oh if there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand when reading these words it’s that we have two basic choices and decisions we must needs make within this life, for we are either going to be rich in this life according to the world’s standards and according to the world’s view and we are going to be poor toward God, or we are going to be rich toward God and yet poor in this life and perhaps even absent treasure which is and has been stored up in this life. There is absolutely no mistake about this particular truth and reality, for it calls and forces us to acknowledge and come face to face with the unbelieve and incredible truth that within our hearts we are either laying up and storing treasure for ourselves here upon this earth and are at the same time choosing to neglect laying up treasure in heaven and thereby being poor toward God, or we are choosing to become rich toward God within this life.
If and as you read the words which are found in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke you will not only find a strong and powerful contrast that exists between covetousness and laying up for ourselves treasure within and upon the earth, but also worrying about those things which the nations of the earth and which Gentiles themselves worry about. You cannot read the words found in this portion of the Scripture and not encounter and come face to face with the absolutely wonderful and incredible truth that we have a great and powerful decision to make within our hearts and lives, for we will either lay up for ourselves treasure here upon the earth—treasure which can be directly be impacted by the elements of this world, and treasure which can be stolen by those present in this world—or we can lay up for ourselves treasure in heaven. What we must needs recognize and understand when thinking about and considering this is that there is an incredibly and vast difference between that which we lay up for ourselves as treasure in this life and that which we lay up for ourselves as treasure in heaven. Perhaps one of the greatest things we must needs realize and understand is that there is a great difference between the treasure(s) we lay up for ourselves here within this earth and treasure which we lay up for ourselves in heaven. What’s more, is that as you read the words which are found in this portion of Scripture you will find that immediately after this particular individual came unto Jesus and asked Him to speak unto his brother that he divide the inheritance with him, Jesus initially asked who made Him a judge or a divider over him. This would at the same time be followed by Jesus speaking unto this man—and not only this man, but also all those who were present with Him on this particular occasion—that they take heed and beware of covetousness. Not only this, but Jesus would also go on to emphatically declare that a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things which he possesses. Oh please don’t miss and lose sight of how absolutely incredible and important this truly is, for that which Jesus is doing is instructing us to hold on to those things within our life very loosely.
The more I read the words which are found in this portion and passage of Scripture the more I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that we have a great and powerful need present before us to hold on to those things within this life with open and upward hands. There are those among us who would like to hold on to those things which they possess in this life with closed and tight fists, and as a direct result of this they are absolutely unable to truly lay up for themselves treasure in heaven. If there is one thing we must needs realize and understand it’s that so long as we not only lay up for ourselves treasures in this life, but also hold on to them with closed and tight fists, we cannot and will not be able to lay up for ourselves treasure in heaven. It is entirely and altogether impossible for us to hold on to those things which we possess in this life, and to do so with closed and tight fists and at the same time lay up for ourselves treasure in heaven. We would like to think that we can essentially “have our cake and eat it too” in that we can experience the best of both worlds, and yet the truth of the matter is that Jesus emphatically stated and declared that no man can serve two masters in this life and upon the earth. What’s more, is that Jesus would go on to emphatically declare that an individual will either love the one and hate the other, or they will love the other and hate that which is entirely and altogether different. Furthermore, Jesus would go on to declare that we cannot serve both God and mammon, for there is not enough room nor space within our hearts for the love of God and the love of money. Remember the words which the apostle Paul spoke when he emphatically declared that the love of money is the root of all evil? The apostle Paul didn’t state that money itself is the root of all evil, but the apostle Paul did unequivocally state that “the love” of money is the root of all evil. Thus, that which the apostle was writing in this particular epistle is an incredibly powerful statement and declaration that the love of money within our hearts can indeed and can in fact corrupt and defile us. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how incredibly important and powerful it truly is, for it calls and draws our attention to the undeniable fact that the love of money can have a great influence and great impact within our hearts and our lives. With this in mind I would like to invite you to consider the following words which are found in the first and second epistles which the apostle Paul wrote unto his spiritual son Timothy as he sought to provide him with instruction in his role as elder and pastor within and over the Ephesian congregation. Consider the following words which are found in each of these epistles concerning the true nature of the human heart, as well as a powerful declaration concerning the last days and the end times:
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. These things command and teach” (1 Timothy 4:1-11).
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifeste unto all men, as theirs also was. But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; which persecutions I endured: but out of them all the LORD deliver me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them: and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:1-15).
It is absolutely necessary that we pay close and careful attention to the words which are found in this portion and passage of Scripture, for within these words we are brought face to face with the tremendous dangers and perils which are and which will be found in the last days. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of that which is found within these particular portions of Scripture, for they highlight and underscore the tremendous divisions that can and will exist within the hearts, within the souls, and within the minds of those who are present within this life and upon the earth. There is a great need for us to recognize and understand the words found within these passages of Scripture, for they highlight and underscore many of the dangers, snares and pitfalls that can and will be experienced in this life—and not only those which can be experienced in this life, but those which are already being experienced within this life. One of the greatest questions we can ask ourselves, and one of the greatest matters we can establish in this life is whether or not we are laying up for ourselves treasure within and upon the earth, or whether we are laying up for ourselves treasure upon the earth. Perhaps one of the greatest decisions we can and will make is whether or not we will be lovers of God and therefore friends of God, or whether we are going to be lovers of the things of this world and lovers of all that is in the world. What’s more, is that both the apostle John in his first New Testament epistle, as well as James the half-brother of Jesus within the epistle he wrote contain incredibly strong and powerful language concerning the decision we must needs make whether or not we are going to be those who are lovers of God and therefore lay up for ourselves treasure in this world, or whether we are going to be enemies of God and thus pursue those things which are found within this life. There is not a doubt in my mind that we cannot experience both realities within this life, for we are either going to be lovers of God and all things that are godly and holy, or we are going to be enemies of God and thereby be lovers of all those things which are unholy in His sight.
I sit here today writing these words and I am forced to acknowledge and come face to face with the true nature and condition of my own heart. I am forced to sit here and acknowledge whether or not I am truly a lover of God and therefore a lover of all things godly and all things which are holy, or whether I am an enemy of God because I have chosen to be a lover of those things which are found within this life and upon the earth. Years ago there was a popular song which was sung in countless churches throughout this country—perhaps even within and throughout the world—and the title of the song was simply “I Am A Friend of God.” In fact, within the song the statement is made “I am a friend of God, I am a friend of God, He calls me friend.” Now, while both of these statements can indeed be true within our hearts and lives—the fact that we can indeed be a friend of God, and the fact that God can call us friend—we must needs recognize and understand that we cannot, we dare not and must not call ourselves friends of God if we not only do not do what He has commanded and instructed us, but also if we are friends of the world and love the things of the world. We would like to think that we can be friends of God and that God can call us friends and at the same time love the things of this world, and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply is not the case. I am absolutely convinced—based on what is presented before and unto us in the holy Scripture—that we are either friends of God and therefore lovers of God and all things which are godly, or we are enemies of God and are therefore lovers of all things which are unholy. There is absolutely no middle ground when it comes to this particular reality, for it is either black or white. We as those who are present within this life are either individuals who are indeed friends of God and therefore love God and all things which are godly, or we are enemies of God and therefore those who are lovers of those things which are present within the world. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are not only found within the first epistle written by the apostle John, and not only within the epistle written by James, but also that which is found within the fourth chapter of this New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke:
“From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace, Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:1-10).
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teachest you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and be not ashamed before him at his coming. If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him” (1 John 2:15-29).
“And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungred. And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season” (Luke 4:1-13).
YOUR LUSTS THAT WAR IN YOUR MEMBERS! YE LUST, AND HAVE NOT! YE KILL, AND DESIRE TO HAVE, AND CANNOT OBTAIN! YE FIGHT AND WAR, YET YE HAVE NOT, BECAUSE YE ASK NOT! YE ASK, AND RECEIVE NOT, BECAUSE YE ASK AMISS! THAT YE MAY CONSUME IT UPON YOUR LUSTS! YE ADULTERERS AND ADULTERESSES! THE FRIENDSHIP OF THE WORLD IS ENMITY WITH GOD! WHOSOEVER THEREFORE WILL BE A FRIEND OF THE WORLD IS THE ENEMY OF GOD! GOD RESISTS THE PROUD! SUBMIT YOURSLVES THEREFORE GO GOD! RESIST THE DEVIL, AND HE WILL FLEE FROM YOU! DRAW NIGH TO GOD, AND HE WILL DRAW NIGHT TO YOU! LOVE NOT THE WORLD, NEITHER THE THINGS THAT ARE IN THE WORLD! IF ANY MAN LOVE THE WORLD, THE LOVE OF THE FATHER IS NOT IN HIM! ALL THAT IS IN THE WORLD, THE LUST OF THE FLESH, AND THE LUST OF THE EYES, AND THE PRIDE OF LIFE, IS NOT OF THE FATHER, BUT IS OF THE WORLD!
I am absolutely and completely convinced there is a great need to pay close and careful attention to the words which are found within this portion of Scripture, for the words which are presented before us draw and call our attention to the true nature and condition of our hearts. As we read the words which are found in this portion of Scripture we are brought face to face—not only with friendship of the world, but also loving the world, and loving the things that are in the world. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found in these two passages of Scripture, for they highlight and underscore two distinct realities which have the potential and ability to be present within our hearts, within our souls, and within our minds—namely, loving the world and the things of the world, as well as friendship of the world. We would like to think that this is somehow not able to be present within our hearts and souls, and yet the truth and underlying reality is that we cannot claim we are friends of God and yet be friends of the world. It is absolutely impossible to be friends with and friends of the world and simultaneously declare that we are also friends of God. What’s more, is that it is absolutely impossible to love the world and the things that are of the world and at the same time proclaim and profess that we are lovers of God. There are those who would like to think there is somehow a grey area that is found within these two spectrums, and yet the truth of the matter is that this is either black or white. Mark my words and mark them well, for you are either friend of God, or you are a friend with and friend of the world. Not only this, but you either love God and thereby love all those things which are godly, or you love the world and coincidentally love the things which are of the world. Even more than this, we must needs recognize and understand that it is no coincidence that directly linked with this particular truth of saying no to friendship of the world and thereby being enemies of God is directly linked to resisting the devil. If there is one thing we must needs understand and acknowledge within our hearts and lives it’s that we have a great need to submit ourselves to God, and by and through that submission to God we resist the devil.
The more I read the words which are found here the more I am brought face to face with the incredibly awesome and powerful truth surrounding our hearts and souls and how we are faced with a decision within ourselves. We are either friends of God or we are friends with and friends of the world, and such friendship with the world is automatically and unequivocally enmity with God. The Holy Spirit when speaking through the New Testament authors held no punches and was very clear when He declared that friendship with the world is enmity with God—and not only this, but also that those who are lovers of the world and all that is in the world cannot be lovers of God. Scripture is very clear within these two portions of Scripture, for they express the dichotomy and disparity that exists between these two realities within our hearts. What’s more, is that when and as you take the time to read the words which are found in this portion and passage of Scripture you will encounter and come face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that our hearts can not only be fickle, but our hearts can also indeed be divided. If there is one thing we must needs realize and understand when reading the words found in these passages of Scripture it’s that there is a great possibility for our hearts to be divided—and not only divided, but divided based on the lusts and the desires which are found within them. You will notice that in the fourth chapter of the New Testament epistle written by James he used the word “lust” twice when speaking of the intense longing and desire within one’s heart. When writing this particular epistle James wasn’t writing to those who did not know the truth, and he was not writing to those who were in the world, but James was writing to those who were scattered within and throughout Asia during those decades following the ascension of Jesus Christ and the descent of the person of the Holy Spirit. James was writing during the days of the early church, and he was writing concerning something which he witnessed and observed among the brethren.
What makes the words found in the epistle written by James so incredibly challenging and convicting is when you consider the language that is used to highlight and underscore his point—namely, wars and fightings, war, kill, fight and war. Stop for a moment and think about the fact that the word “lust” is used twice within this passage of Scripture, the word “fight” is used in two different forms within this passage, and the word “war” is used twice as well. In essence you are brought face to face with the tremendous truth that the lusts that are present within our heart—lusts which the apostle John wrote which are centered upon the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—can produce within us such an insatiable and intense desire and covetousness that we actually rise up against others and not only engage in fightings, but we also engage in war. Stop and consider the tremendous lengths you might go to that you might obtain and lay hold of that which you desire within your heart. Think about the tremendous lengths and measures you have taken within your life that ye might lay hold and of obtain that which ye have lusted after as you have been willing to give yourself over to fighting and war that ye might lay hold of and take possession of it. HAVE NOT! CANNOT OBTAIN! YE HAVE NOT! RECEIVE NOT! If there is one thing this particular passage highlights and underscores is not only the division within our heart surrounding that which we lust after and desire, but it also highlights and underscores that which we do not have in our possession. In all reality, that which we find within this portion of Scripture brings us face to face with the great lengths and measures we will take and go through that we might lay hold of that which we do not have and that which desire and seek to obtain within this life. Stop for a moment and consider your own heart and think about those things you presently desire. If you are truly willing to be honest with yourself right now before the Holy Spirit, I would invite you to think about and consider that which you have an intense longing for within your heart and soul, and that which you feel you somehow do not have and that you somehow need.
I write these words and I am brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth surrounding just how intense longing and desire are within our hearts and souls. We would be incredibly naïve to think and consider—even for a moment—that longing and desire are not very real within our hearts and souls. What’s more, is I feel the tremendous urge and unction to ask you who are reading these words what it is you desire and what it is you long for and long after within this life. If you are willing to be honest with yourself, and if you were willing to be honest with the Holy Spirit right now on this very day, are you willing to admit and acknowledge that which you truly long after and desire? Not only this, but I feel the great need to ask you whether or not you are even aware of the lusts, the desires and the longings which are present within your heart. It’s interesting that in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke that Jesus warned against covetousness—and not only warned against covetousness, but also warned against laying up for ourselves treasures in the earth and are not rich toward and rich in God. It is quite astonishing when you read the words found in this portion of Scripture, for the words which are presented before and unto us call and draw our attention to the tremendous truth of whether or not we would consider ourselves rich in this life and rich in the world and according to the world’s standards, or whether or not we are rich toward God. Jesus clearly and very plainly set before His audience and His hearers two distinct choices, for He either spoke of having treasure in this earth and therefore being poor toward God, or He spoke of being rich toward God, and thus quite possibly being poor according to the world’s standards. With this being said I am absolutely and completely convinced there is perhaps no greater example surrounding the stronghold and stranglehold money—and not only money, but also possessions—can have within and upon the heart and soul of one. There is within the New Testament a narrative and account of a rich young ruler who came running unto Jesus and kneeling before Him asked what good thing he must needs do that he inherit eternal life. I am absolutely and completely convinced we must needs pay close and careful attention to this narrative and account as it is found within the New Testament, for it forces us to acknowledge the condition of our hearts and souls. What’s more, is I would also call and draw your attention to the contrast that exists within Scripture between the rich young ruler who came running unto Jesus and Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector who desired to see Jesus:
“And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go, and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: FOR HE HAD GREAT POSSESSIONS. Then said Jesus unto His disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier fo ra camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:16-26).
“And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? None is good, save one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, DO not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: FOR HE WAS VERY RICH. And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved? And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God. Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee. And he said unto them, Verily I sayu not you, Ther eis no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting” (Luke 18:18-30).
“And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And, behold, there was a man named Zaccheaus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. And he rain before, and climbed up into a syocomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zaccheaus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. And Zaccheaus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:1-10).
I have to admit that I find a strong and powerful contrast which exists between the rich young ruler whose name we do not know, and Zacchaeus whose name of course we know. What’s more, is that the narrative of these two men is less than a chapter apart, for in the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke we find this rich young ruler coming unto Jesus asking Him what good thing he needed to do to inherit eternal life. IN response to this Jesus would speak unto Him and declare that if he wished to be perfect he needed to sell all he had, give to the poor, and then to come and follow after Him. Before this Jesus would speak of the commandments which were commanded in the Law of Moses, to which this man responded by declaring how he had kept all those commandments from his youth up. What makes the passage concerning the rich young ruler so incredibly captivating is when you think about the fact that not only was he rich, but he also had many and much possessions. The rich young ruler came unto Jesus asking what good thing he needed to do to inherit eternal life, and when Jesus declared unto him that he needed to sell all that he had and give to the poor he proceeded to leave the presence of Jesus sorrowful. Oh it is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand this, for this is a stark contrast which existed between Zacchaeus and the rich young ruler, for there is not a doubt in my mind that both men were and had become rich. We aren’t given any clue or insight into the rich young ruler’s past and how he had accumulated his possessions and acquired his wealth, however, when it comes to Zacchaeus we find that when he is speaking unto the Lord within his own house he declared how he would take half of his goods and give to the poor, and if he had taken any thing from any man by false accusation he would restore unto him fourfold—something he was eager to do, but something the rich young ruler wasn’t.
I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this portion and passage of Scripture and I am forced to wonder how the rich young ruler had accumulated all of his possessions and how he had amassed the wealth which he possessed. Scripture is entirely and altogether unclear as to how the rich young ruler had indeed and had in fact acquired his wealth and had come to have much possessions, and when it came to those possessions and that wealth we find and discover that he was unwilling to give them up. When we read the narrative surrounding the rich young ruler we find that he not only left the presence of Jesus sorrowful, but he left the presence of Jesus sorrowful because he had much possessions. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand concerning the rich young ruler is that not only was he sorrowful because he had many possessions and was rich, but because Jesus asked him to give all of that up. I can’t help but wonder what the rich young ruler expected when he came unto Jesus and asked what good thing he needed to do to inherit eternal life, however, we do know that while it was indeed true he came and entered into the presence of Jesus—perhaps with joy and excitement in his heart—he would leave sorrowful. There is not a doubt in my mind that this rich young ruler was sorrowful within his heart because he recognized and realized that he was asked to give up that which he had perhaps valued and loved within his heart and soul. I am absolutely and completely convinced that for this rich young ruler there was the issue of his heart being divided—and not only his heart being divided, but also his storing up treasure for himself within the earth, and loving the world and the things of the world. That which Jesus offered and provided him was a way to deliver himself from a divided heart, and deliver himself from the love of the world, deliver himself from loving the things of the world, and perhaps even loving money. It is truly something worth thinking about and considering that Jesus not only gave him a way and the means to deliver himself from the love of the world, but also gave him an opportunity to love his neighbor, which coincidentally was something which was mentioned in the account found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew.
It is something truly worth thinking about and considering when reading the words found in this portion of the text that Jesus gave this rich young ruler an opportunity to do three distinct things within his life. If and as you read the passage of Scripture found within the Synoptic gospels you will find that Jesus offered the rich young ruler the opportunity to deliver himself from the love of the world and from a divided heart, He gave him an opportunity to love his neighbor by distributing unto the poor, and He gave him an opportunity to follow Himself. Pause and think about just how great the invitation was which Jesus gave unto this rich young ruler, for it is more than simply giving up possessions and distributing unto the poor. That which Jesus did for and unto this rich young ruler was giving him the chance and opportunity to deliver himself out from under the danger of having a divided heart. It was indeed true this rich young ruler came unto Jesus asking what good thing he needed to do to inherit eternal life, and yet much to his surprise he found Jesus asking something that was much greater than he was willing to give. Although Scripture doesn’t specifically state it in any of the texts, and although we cannot sure for sure—I would dare say that had Jesus simply asked this rich young ruler to follow him, he might have been willing to do it. I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that this rich young ruler might very well have been willing to walk with and follow Jesus if that was the only thing He asked of him. The truth of the matter, however, is that this simply wasn’t the only thing Jesus asked this rich young ruler to do. We would like to think that simply walking with and following Jesus was enough, however, this particular text suggests that walking with and following Jesus involves a deliberate, an intentional, a voluntary, and a willful forsaking of everything we held dear to us within our lives.
As you continue reading the words which are found in this portion of Scripture you will find that immediately after this Simon Peter spoke and declare unto Jesus how they had left all and forsaken Him. Jesus—upon hearing these words—declared that there was no one who forsook father, or mother, or brother, or sister, or anything else in this world and did not and would not receive so much more in the kingdom of heaven. It is truly something worth thinking about and considering that there are countless men and women who think that it is simply and solely about walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ. There are those among us who think that the only thing that is needed within this life is walking with and following the Lord Jesus and that there aren’t and that there won’t be things He will ask and require of us. When we look at the accounts of when Jesus called James and his brother John, as well as Simon we find that at the same time these men heard the call of Jesus to follow Him they immediately forsook all and followed Him. For Simon, for Andrew, for James and for John they forsook their livelihoods, their sources of income, their means to provide for themselves, and so much more. What’s more, is that Scripture even records and recounts how James and John also left their father Zebedee that they might walk with and follow Jesus. When we read the narrative and account of Matthew the tax collector whom Jesus found sitting at the receipt of custom we find Jesus giving him the invitation to follow him and how he immediately rose from where he was sitting and followed Jesus. It’s quite remarkable and astounding to think about and consider the fact that James and John, Simon and Andrew and Matthew all left professions and forsook their livelihoods that they might walk with and follow Jesus—and not only walk with and follow Jesus during those three and a half years, but for the rest of their lives.
What I find truly astonishing and remarkable about the narrative of the rich young ruler is that Jesus extended a three-fold invitation unto him—an invitation which could dramatically and radically alter and transform his entire life. We have already discussed that Jesus invited the rich young ruler to deliver himself from a divided heart and from being a lover of money, a lover of possessions, and a love of the things of the world. Jesus extended an invitation unto this rich young ruler to truly demonstrate a love for and toward his neighbor in taking everything he earned from selling all his possessions and giving unto the poor. What makes the invitation given unto Jesus so incredibly powerful is that the invitation was to truly love his neighbor(s) and to follow Him, and the one thing that held him back was selling all he had and giving up his possessions. Through selling all he had and giving up all his possessions—not only could he truly demonstrate loving his neighbor by giving unto the poor, but he could also truly follow Jesus. In all reality it would be safe to say that this man’s possessions and wealth not only kept him from walking with and following Jesus, but also from loving his neighbor. Despite the fact that he declared unto Jesus that he had kept all the commandments from his youth—including loving his neighbor—there was one thing that was holding him back from truly loving his neighbor. Oh he loved himself enough as was evident in his possessions and riches, however, it is without a doubt safe to say he did not love his neighbors as himself, for he was unwilling to sell all he had and give up his possessions and riches. What’s more, is that his many possessions and riches were not only means of causing his heart to be divided, but they were the underlying means to keep him from truly loving his neighbor and from walking with and following Jesus. Perhaps the question we must needs ask ourselves is what is keeping us from truly loving our neighbor—and not only loving our neighbor, but truly walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ. Is there something in our lives that is keeping us from truly loving our neighbor—something which we must needs give up that we might be free to love others as we love ourselves?
As I prepare to bring this writing to a close it’s incredibly interesting that there were essentially two rich men found within Scriptures and both men desired to see Jesus. One rich man came running unto Jesus and knelt down before Him asking what he needed to do to inherit eternal life, and would leave the presence of Jesus sorrowful. The other rich man was short in stature and when hearing that Jesus was passing by that way ran ahead and climbed into a sycamore tree that he might see Jesus. The experience and encounter this second rich man had with Jesus was entirely altogether different, for in the presence of Jesus—not only did he declare that he would give away up to half of his possessions, but if he had defrauded others through false accusation he would repay four-fold. Please do not miss the incredible and tremendous importance what Zacchaeus did, for not only was he willing to love his neighbor as himself and give up that which would have kept him from truly loving them the way the Law, the prophets, and even Jesus commanded him to, but he was also willing to restore that which he had quite possibly cheated. This man was willing to give up and restore, and was willing to make such a commitment, vow and dedication in the company and presence of Jesus. It would be in response to Zacchaeus’ words that Jesus emphatically declared that on this day salvation had come unto his house, and confirmed his identity as a son of Abraham and thus entitled to all the blessings, promises, provisions and protections that were afforded unto the children of Abraham. Oh how absolutely incredible it is to read and consider the narrative of Zacchaeus, for his was one that was entirely and altogether different from the rich young ruler, as he was able to experience salvation where the rich young ruler experienced sorrow. Oh that we would truly recognize and understand this, for here were two men who were both in the presence of Jesus, and yet one would leave the presence of Jesus sorrowful, while the other would remain and abide in the presence of Jesus and would experience salvation.
It is with all of this in mind we must needs give incredible thought and care to the words which Jesus spoke—those words which are recorded in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke, as well as the sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. The words which are found here bring us face to face with the fact that when we are those who are lovers of the world and those who love the things of the world we quickly and quite possibly even easily give ourselves unto worry, unto doubt, and unto anxiety. Not only do we run the risk and danger of being like the men who tore down his barns to build one bigger, larger and greater that he might hold all his possessions, but we also give ourselves to worry and doubt over what we shall eat, over what we shall drink, and over what we shall wear. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand when considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture it’s that if we allow ourselves to be such who are divided within our hearts because of the love of the world and because of a love for the things of the world then we are indeed opening ourselves up—not only to accumulating and acquiring more than what we have, and not only to not be content with what we have as the apostle Paul mentioned, but we also open ourselves up to worry, to doubt, to anxiety, and with great concern over those things which the Father has promised to provide for us. If there is perhaps one thing that is so incredibly dangerous—not only about being a lover of the world and the things of the world, but also having great riches, wealth and possessions—it’s that we open ourselves up to doubt, fear and anxiety over the provision and blessing of the Lord. There is a tendency and temptation to lose sight of who might have bestowed those blessings upon us, and a fear, doubt and anxiety that fills our hearts that places us in a position where we begin to worry about those things which our Father not only knows we have need of, but also desires to provide and give unto us.
Upon bringing this writing to a close I find it absolutely incredible and necessary to call and draw our attention to the words which Jesus instructed His disciples and followers, for perhaps one of the greatest invitations He gave to His disciples was to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. What’s more, is that this invitation would also come with a promise, for Jesus would go on to declare that if and when we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness then all these things will be added unto us. Oh that we would be those who would place at the very forefront of our hearts and souls the kingdom of God and that we would indeed and would in fact seek after and pursue that kingdom. With this being said I am absolutely convinced that if and when we seek first the kingdom of heaven and the righteousness of God we position our focus on something else entirely and altogether different from those things which we might very well grow fearful, anxious and worried about somehow needing to provide for ourselves. There is a great need within our hearts and lives to be such who are willing to commit ourselves to being men and women who are willing to seek first the kingdom of God, and who are willing to pray unto the Father, saying, “The kingdom come. Thy will be done.” Oh there is something truly liberating and freeing about seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, for in seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness we are delivering ourselves from the love of and for this world, as well as a love for the things of the world. Perhaps the single greatest question we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we are those who are truly willing to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness knowing and trusting that all these things which we worry about can and will be added unto us.