So far in this series we’ve talked about several treasures that we’ve been able to identify as “true riches”, based on the words of Jesus in (Lk.16:11). We discussed the true riches of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. We talked about the true riches of sacrifice as well as spiritual gifts that have incredible value when the Lord entrusts people with them. Today, in closing this series, we will discuss the greatest treasure of all, the treasure that surpasses all monetary wealth and ranks highest among spiritual riches. We will talk about the true riches of love, compassion, and mercy.
The Riches of His Love
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Probably the most famous scripture, at least in Christian circles, around the world, John chapter three verse sixteen is known by even the most unfaithful people. The message of this powerful verse is clear. God’s love was so great that He gave everything to redeem you and I!
A person once said that you can measure the value of a gift by what it cost the person who gave it. Using these terms we can measure the gift of God’s own Son to be among the most valuable of gifts because it cost God everything to give it. Jesus (although it is a mystery) somehow laid aside his divinity for a season, while at the same time remaining fully God. He took on the weakness of our own flesh, was born humbly in a manger when the Inn had no room for the Son of God, and His generosity and great love for us took him all the way to the cross. He humbled himself to the point of this gruesome death (Phil.2:8), and he did not recant, He did not turn back, He did not do anything to try and save his own life or stay his own execution, or even relieve his own pain. He refused the numbing of the gall offered to him as He was hanging on the cursed tree (Matt.27:34) because His great love for you and I demanded that He accept the full penalty that the law required for our sin, so that we might be fully pardoned by his sacrifice; so that we might receive the full portion of his love and grace to be completely free from the law of sin and death!!! What great love a man had for us that He died to save us! What great love this God has for us that He gave his only begotten son. Can there be greater riches than this? Can there be greater riches than what the blood of Jesus purchased?
Remember this: the price of the ransom is also in tandem with the value of the ransomed. Thugs in Mexico don’t kidnap poor people to demand ransom for. They try to kidnap rich and influential people. The richer and more influential the better because that usually means that the people who love them are willing to pay more to get them back. God paid the ultimate price in giving his only Son for you and I and it absolutely attests to yours and mine’s value. Maybe this is what you need to hear today my dear friend…. You were worth it! You were worth all the beatings, all the shame, all the public disgrace and pain that the Lord endured! You were worth the death of the cross because God so loved the world. God so loved you that He gave his son in exchange for you, that you might know him and that you might know life in God through Jesus Christ! What riches we’ve been given!
The Riches of Mercy & Grace
4 ”But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.â€
Notice the term “riches” used over and over again in writings like these. He that does not include the riches of God in their assessment of riches is a fool. Jesus said it best when He warned against gaining the whole world in exchange for our souls. If you gain the whole world yet lose your soul in the process then what have you really gained (Matt.16:26)? How many people today are spiritually bankrupt while they drive around in their cadillacs and flaunt their earthly possessions? What a sad state to be in. Yes, as I teach often, earthly riches are important. As we saw from Jesus’ own teaching, the proper handling of earthly riches is what qualifies us to handle true riches (Lk.16:11). But the priority must remain the spiritual riches. If you live your whole life doing great things, accomplishing wonders, and amassing riches, and that journey doesn’t change your heart for the better, then you missed the whole point of the journey.
Joseph started in naivetivety and foolishness, and he learned through his hardships obedience to the Lord (Heb.5:8). Once He reached his journey’s end He had the wealth of a king, yes. But He also had the heart of a king. His heart was changed along the way. He thought when He saw His brothers that the negative emotions of the moment might overcome him, and maybe for a moment they did. But the work that God had done in his heart along the journey could not let him go to the dark places of revenge and payback. His heart saw the wisdom in God’s plan, and in his heart He released his brothers and forgave them for what they did because with conviction He came to say, “It was for a purpose” (Gen.50:20). Forgiveness was found in his heart because the journey changed his heart. What is the journey doing to your heart? Are you developing the riches of love, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness along the way, or has a love for money robbed you of these true riches causing you to exalt things like earthly riches above their God-ordained position of priority? Has the journey robbed you of the riches of your joy, love, and laughter replacing them with the thorns of hatred, malice, and contempt? Give it to the Lord and ask him to renew in you a right spirit this day (Ps.51:10). He’s ready to move on your behalf!
The Riches of Compassion
35 “Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.
36 “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.”
40 “Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”
41 And having been moved with compassion, having stretched out His hand, He touched him and said to him, "I am willing, be cleansed."
42 As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed.â€
Notice the connection between Jesus’ power and Jesus' compassion. Very simple truth: Where your heart is your treasure will be also. Where your heart is your power will be also.
The bible foretold of Jesus’ healing and power ministry through the prophet Habbukuk in (Hab.3:4). The prophet saw rays of light flashing from the Lord’s hand and foretold that there his power would be hidden. This was a foreshadowing of Jesus’ revolutionary healing ministry that would be unleashed through the laying on hands, which became one of the six foundational doctrines of Christ (Heb.6:2) which His followers would carry forward after He ascended. Habakkuk saw that this power would cause pestilence, sickness, and disease to flee from before him, and that fever would follow him bowing at his feet (Hab.3:5)!
In the story of the leper mentioned above Jesus’ power was hidden to the man. It was the Lord’s great compassion, not the leper’s great faith in that moment, that unleashed the hidden power from his hand. Jesus stretched forth his hand being “moved” with compassion and instantly healed the man. Jesus’ power was inseparable from his compassion and it's why the Father could trust him with so much of it. To the Son the Father gave the Spirit without measure (Jn.3:34). Our power in the kingdom is always in proportion to our love.
Paul admonished us to earnestly desire spiritual gifts (1 Cor.12:31;14:1), but then He went on to “show us a more excellent way”. He proceeded to write (1 Cor.13), one of the greatest literary works of the scripture; the great chapter of love.
Paul goes on to list a host of amazing spiritual manifestations including speaking with the voices of angels, prophecy, and faith to move mountains. After listing these things He shocks the reader by saying that you're nothing if you can manifest all of these things and do so without love (1 Cor.13:2). You can understand all the mysteries, bestow all your goods to feed the poor, give your body to burned for the cause of Christ and still have it profit you nothing if these things aren’t done in love (1 Cor.13:2-3). What incredible words from our wise beloved Paul!
In closing this series I wish to give a call to all believers everywhere who would find this writing. The call is for maturity according to God’s standards of maturity as defined in the bible:
9 “For we know in part and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.â€
Paul compared his growth in love to his own natural maturation from childhood to manhood in his body. As a man He had to consciously choose to “put away childish things” and start acting like an adult. In the same way He had to choose the maturity of love and understand that to love God and to love others is true growth in the Lord. So yes, desire earnestly the true riches of spiritual gifts. Desire earnestly to be a good steward of the unrighteous mammon so you might qualify for a greater level of stewardship when it comes to true riches. Desire earnestly the riches of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, and sacrifice from your heart to the Lord always. But never forget if you come into possession of all these treasures and you’ve lost the treasure of a loving, kind, merciful, and compassionate heart, then you have lost everything. Your gain will not register in the books of heaven.
Look again at what Paul wrote. You can understand all mysteries by the gift of prophecy and still be nothing in God's eyes if you don’t love. The false prophets who Jesus spoke of in (Matt.7:15-23) will come to him on the judgment day speaking of their treasures of prophecy and power which they indeed possessed and wielded. But their shock will come when they hear the agonizing words of the Master: “depart from me you workers of iniquity, for I never knew you” (Matt.7:23). Grow up in the things of God my dear friend and do not acquire all the treasures of man while losing the greatest treasures of them all. Be the man, be the woman, that carries the true riches with a noble heart!
In his Service,
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