Better a little with the fear of the Lord
than great wealth with turmoil.
In truth, the one who fears the Lord is the one who is wealthy, and the one without such fear is impoverished. To truly fear the Lord is to believe in Christ; to believe in Christ is to be born of God, adopted as his child, and made an heir of the glories of God’s kingdom. It is to possess an inheritance that “is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven” (1 Peter 1:4) for the possessor. It is to be reconciled with your Maker; it is to be relieved of the burden of guilt; it is to be set free from the bondage of sin; it is to experience the full love of God. Will I trade having a nice car and a large bank deposit for such riches? Does not the very question sound absurd?
And yet we Christians often act as though these riches are not enough. Our attitude is “That’s nice, God, but what would really make me happy is _______.” The treasure of material prosperity is never secure. The wealthiest persons have lost their riches. Material prosperity brings with it the ever constant need to guard that prosperity, to protect from thieves, to withstand competitors. But more to the point is that it cannot bring peace, happiness, or true fulfillment. The wealthy have all the emotional troubles of the poor; indeed, their wealth can produce troubles in their families and other relationships. Their wealth can create stress.
But worse, wealth can create blindness and a false sense of security. It can dull the soul, making it seem that peace exists through material security and luxury. It can make the possessor addicted to it, so that he will trade his soul for physical pleasure and security. He is impoverished indeed who holds on to what he cannot keep and gives up what would have given eternal joy and peace.
2 Corinthians 5-6
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
The Ministry of Reconciliation
11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin[b] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
6 As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. 2 For he says,
“In the time of my favor I heard you,
and in the day of salvation I helped you.”[c]
I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.
3 We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. 4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8 through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
11 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. 12 We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. 13 As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts also.
Warning Against Idolatry
14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial[d]? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will live with them
and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they will be my people.”[e]
“Come out from them
and be separate,
says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
and I will receive you.”[f]
“I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”[g]