“….a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil…….”  Mark 14:3

“Why do you trouble her?  She has done a good work for me.”  Mark 14:16

“……they had asked from the Egyptian articles of silver, articles of gold…..and the Lord had given the people favor….so they granted them what they requested…”  Exodus 12:35,36

I think that it is prudent to start out saying what this post is not about.  I am not a believer in the message that an individual’s prosperity is a measure of their faith and thus the more wealth a person has is some indication of a greater righteousness.  I can find nothing biblical or from Christ that would lead me to find the legitimacy of that message.   Although again I have to freely admit I am not a biblical scholar so what I find or do not find, I will grant, may not be of much importance.

So what is this about.  It seems to me that Jesus Christ is telling us that the gaining or not gaining of wealth is not the seminal aspect of the concern about wealth; but it is the intent around the gaining or not that is of extreme, ever overwhelming importance.

Let’s look at the anointing of Jesus Christ as an example.  First, there is an element of wealth involved.  Jesus does not correct those present and say that the oil that is being used to anoint Him is not costly.  Jesus does not proclaim that the oil was some heavenly gift.  The oil had to be purchased.  It is true we don’t know who purchased the oil concerning the amount of wealth that they had.  What Jesus does stress is it is the intent of the use of the oil which is the thing that matters most and that is why the assembled people’s judgement was wrong.  Jesus was not being anointed out of vanity or privilege.  Jesus was being anointed in preparation for His death.  Jesus stresses that doing for the poor is something that is good and noble to do and should be done.  Yet the use of this money for the service of Christ is not only also a good thing, but will be proclaimed whenever and wherever the gospel is preached.

Let’s look at another time where God caused His people to be wealthy in earthly terms.  I think we often have a vision of the Israelites leaving their captivity as a somewhat ragtag, destitute group streaming out into the desert.  However, the book of Exodus tells us something different.  God put it into the hearts of His people to ask of the Egyptians for gold and silver to take with them; and God, in His almighty power, put it into the hearts of the Egyptians, the captors and masters of the Israelites, to generously give of their possessions to them.  Was this to punish the Egyptians?  Was this so the Israelites would see themselves as rich?  I believe that it was because God Almighty had the plan for His tabernacle of worship and knew that His people would need gold, silver, copper to build the tabernacle in the design God had for it.  Indeed later, when called upon, the Israelite people did freely give of their gold, silver and copper to the building of the tabernacle, so much in fact that the builders had to go to Moses and ask him to tell the people to stop donating their gold and silver.  Also, understand, God demanded that the people should not be forced to give, that only the freely given donations should be used in the construction of the tabernacle.

However, we unfortunately do not always follow the intents and purposes of Almighty God, including our use of wealth.  Again let’s use the above example of some of the Israelite people.  When Moses was upon Mount Sinai receiving the laws of God, some of the Israelite people used their gold to make their own god, a graven image and then bowed down to the gold of their own creation.  The use of gold as a god to be worshiped lead to their ultimate destruction.

Seemingly to me then, the amount of wealth, the accumulation of wealth is of no value in and of itself.  For people of faith, those having wealth are no more blessed than any other.  In fact, for believers, there may be an even greater temptation as wealth is accumulated to fall into the trap of the world where the accumulation of wealth is a sign of value of the person as well as a primary indication of the goodness of life.  This can happen to an individual and it can happen to an institution like a church who sees greater financial status as an indicator of the purity of their message and service.

Dear sisters and brothers we are called, as Paul stated, to see our situation in terms of God’s loving plan.  In abiding in Christ, we can be content in a place of scarcity as well as a place of plenty for they both come from God.  Should you or I find ourselves accumulating wealth, we need to understand that God has a plan for that wealth which is not going to be based on our accumulation of “bigger barns”, that is our own comfort.  We are not to look at our wealth as some reward for a greater amount of righteousness or closeness to God.  We are to be a conduit of that wealth to others who are in need as the wise servant used his given talents versus the foolish who buried his talents away.  Conversely, if we find ourselves in a place of worldly scarcity, where the world would call us poor; first, we should not be envious or covetousness of the wealth of others.  For trials, tribulations, fear and hatred plague those who rely on the riches of this world.  He who has control over all knows of our needs and will fulfill abundantly.

Understand that regardless of the size of any earthly financial account, we are called to be rich in love, generous in mercy, wealthy in forgiving and full of faith.  These are the accounts, that as we fill them with ever greater amounts, lead to our peace and true joy and bring praise to the Holy Name of Our Father in Heaven.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we humbly declare that You and not we are Author of our prosperity.  We pray that You would put it on our hearts to use any prosperity from You for the betterment of those in need.  Forgive us, Merciful Father, when we put our trust in things and wealth and judge others by their affluence or lack thereof.  Put Your Spirit on our hearts that we would be rich in charity, humility, mercy, forgiveness and most importantly love.  That the building of spiritual wealth, would be our aim so in to live lives of praise to You.  We pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen