Saturday, December 6, 2014

“Weep and Howl!”

"Weep and Howl!"

We read in the Bible that Abraham believed and it was accounted to him for righteousness. In this verse we see the power of faith to produce righteousness.  Thus, the message preached by Paul was not a message that promoted faith alone, or that promoted righteousness alone, but a message that demonstrated to the world and the on-looking universe that faith actually does work through love.  Righteousness by faith is actually righteousness in the life, not merely righteousness "applied" to the life, or righteousness "covering" the life, but actual righteousness in the life.  Righteousness – the thoughts and feelings and behavior that are motivated by self-sacrificing love – is the goal of the gospel.
Ellen White was once asked if the message of righteousness by faith was the 3rd Angel's message. She repleied that it was in verity.  She added elswhere that,

"... This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God. Many had lost sight of Jesus. They needed to have their eyes directed to his divine person, his merits, and his changeless love for the human family. All power is given into his hands, that he may dispense rich gifts unto men, imparting the priceless gift of his own righteousness to the helpless human agent. This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel's message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of his Spirit in a large measure."  {TM 91.2}

Did you see it?  It presented "justification by faith," that reveals itself in righteousness.  Faith isn't merely a fiduciary exchange whereby we purchase salvation with faith.  Faith isn't to accomplish a book-keeping hurdle that God has in the books of heaven.  Faith is a productive reality.  Faith is a causative agent.  Faith causes, it produces, righteousness – heavenly thoughts, feelings, and behavior.

Our lesson this week talks about righteousness as it applies to financial matters.  How we acquire money, and how we use money.  Acquiring and using money in "right" ways are practical aspects of "doing" righteousness.  How we acquire and use our dollars and cents, reveal righteousness or selfishness.  It reveals love or evil.  It reveals compassion and wisdom, or ego and delusion.

And as we've already seen, the path that produces right use of money (righteousness) is the path of faith.  The path that produces Godly spending and giving of money (righteousness) is the path of a heart appreciation of the love of God as manifested in the life and death of Christ (faith).  Money, in and of itself, produces no value, but is a measure of how we value things.  If we value others, and if we value the sacrifice of Jesus, it will be manifested in the use we make of our money (righteousness) for His cause and His kingdom.  Ellen White wrote,

""Riches bring with them great responsibilities. To obtain wealth by unjust dealing, by overreaching in trade, by oppressing the widow and the fatherless, or by hoarding up riches and neglecting the wants of the needy, will eventually bring the just retribution described by the inspired apostle: 'Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.' "—Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 682."

The Lord impressed James to write a scathing rebuke to "rich" people especially in "the last days" where in we live: "Come now, you rich weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! ... You have heaped up treasure in the last days" (James 5:1, 3). Writes Ellen White: "I saw that these fearful words apply particularly to the wealthy who profess to believe the present truth." [1]  Again, it is not that money in and of itself is evil, bbut how we relate to money reveal what is in our heart.  Christ did not say that mney is the root of all evil, but the love of money is ... We read again from Ellen White,

"Money has great value, because it can do great good. In the hands of God's children it is food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, and clothing for the naked. It is a defense for the oppressed, and a means of help to the sick. But money is of no more value than sand, only as it is put to use in providing for the necessities of life, in blessing others, and advancing the cause of Christ.
"Hoarded wealth is not merely useless, it is a curse. In this life it is a snare to the soul, drawing the affections away from the heavenly treasure. . . .
He who realizes that his money is a talent from God will use it economically, and will feel it a duty to save that he may give.-Ellen G. White, Christ's Object Lessons, pp. 351, 352.

Many feel safe in the accumaulation of wealth, But, one who discerns at least something of the economic significance of the cross of Christ discerns a deeper recognition: we don't deserve any of what we have--not even our next breath.  Is God telling us and the world something? Yes! If you have $26 million to spend a year, to do what you like, and you live in a palace, and you ride in the safest car in the world, you are not secure. You have nothing that you can call your own; your next breath is only by the grace of God.  Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was the icon of the world, his name on everyone's tongue. God told him in Daniel 4:25, "The Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will." Nebuchadnezzar, you are nothing.  All of Nebechadnezzer's wealth could not prevent him from living as a beast for 7 years. 

You may say, "I am not wealthy."  Well, the little you have is also a gift of God.  It belongs to God.  It is to be used for His glory.  The offertory response says,

We give Thee but Thine own,
What-e'er the gift may be;
All that we have is Thine alone,
A trust, O Lord, from Thee.

May others see Jesus in us, even, on how we acquire and spend money. 

Raul Diaz

Raul Diaz

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