Being truly rich

The Sunday Times Rich List profiles the richest individuals and families in Britain. There are 171 billionaires in Britain, which has more billionaires per head of population than almost any other country in the world. The wealth of the richest person is £35 billion. The top 50 individuals and families together hold a combined wealth of £796,459 billion – a sum larger than the annual GDP of Switzerland. Some of the richest people in Britain are under the age of 35 and include those who have inherited property, very popular entertainers, and sports stars.

The Bible doesn’t condemn rich people, but it does warn against the dangers of being rich. It’s easy to trust in our riches and not to acknowledge God’s goodness to us. When Israel entered the Promised Land, God warned his people against pride and complacency. When they enjoyed the abundance of the Promised Land and became very rich, they might say to themselves, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” Instead, he encouraged them to be thankful and to remember his kindness in giving them the ability to produce wealth.

It is also important to think of the future and the uncertainty of life. Jesus told a parable about a rich farmer who had a bumper harvest. He built new barns to store all his crops. Then he said to himself, “You have plenty of things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” Jesus said, “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich towards God.”

The riches that really matter are eternal and within the reach of us all. Paul wrote, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that through his poverty you might become rich.” Jesus did not seek to enrich himself but to enrich people like us. He laid aside the unimaginable riches of heaven, which he had every right to enjoy, and came to this earth to die on the Cross for our sins. He did this so that, through his self-sacrifice, his poverty, we, who are poor and needy, might receive riches that last forever.

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