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Dying and Wealth

• Greg Boyd

Greg concluded his sermon series on “Dying to Self” by preaching about how a person’s identity rooted in Jesus Christ changes his or her perspective on wealth and comfort.

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Greg concluded his sermon series on “Dying to Self” by preaching about how a person’s identity rooted in Jesus Christ changes his or her perspective on wealth and comfort.

Greg began the sermon by sharing about his experience of God’s love. There are times when the love of God is pulsating in him and through him to others. These are the moments when he feels fully alive. Though as much as he wishes these times would last, they invariably end. Why can’t these moments persist? Greg shared that humanity’s propensity to be rooted in the “false self” blocks a sustained experience of God’s love to, in, and through humanity. Instead of basing one’s existence in Christ, the false self seeks to secure identity from the temporal world. Inevitably, this will mean that the self will turn inward instead of looking outward for opportunities to bless others. However, for the person who has died to self and lives for Christ, the things of this world lose their vice-like grip. In particular, this new identity in Christ profoundly alters their perspective on wealth and comfort.

In short, the person who has died to self cares very little about wealth and comfort. Luke 12:15-21 chronicles Jesus telling a parable about a rich man who decided to build new barns to hold his vast wealth. The man believed that such actions would secure his peace and security for the future. However, the man was gravely mistaken for the parable ends with God saying to him, “This very night your life is demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” The man had turned inward in making the decision to build new barns. He did not ask for God’s direction regarding how to steward his wealth.

In contrast, the person who has died to self views their blessings in life as something to share with others. Instead of asking, “How can I profit from this gift?” the question becomes, “How can I love others with this gift?” Paradoxically, the experience of dying to self entails that there is, in fact, something in it for the person who has died to self, but only when such action occurs without regard for reward. This illustrates the upside-down Kingdom of God. Paul’s letter to the Philippians demonstrates this reality. Regardless of his life circumstances (whether good or bad), Paul was content (Philippians 4:11-13). He had found that the secret to such contentedness was no longer living for himself, but instead having Christ live within him (Galatians 2:20).

As residents of the United States – where most of the population is wealthy compared to the rest of the world – Greg challenged us to wakeup from our country’s consumer-based matrix of lies. As people marked by the daily experience of dying to self and living for Christ, a giving spirit born out of gratitude should characterize our lives.

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Focus Scripture:

  • Luke 12: 15-21

    15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

    16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.'

    18 “Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I'll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” '

    20 “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?'

    21 “This is how it will be with those who store up things for themselves but are not rich toward God.”

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