Written by Dawn Rutan
I’m reading a book that quotes part of a day’s reading from the One Year Bible. Out of that reading, the following verses caught my attention:
- Deuteronomy 10:9 – “That is why the Levites have no share or inheritance among their brothers; the Lord is their inheritance, as the Lord your God told them.”
- Luke 8:18 – “Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.”
- Psalm 69:32 – “The poor will see and be glad—you who seek God, may your hearts live!”
The thought occurred to me that we should live more like the Levites with an awareness that the Lord is the only inheritance we need. Jesus said the same thing about the rich man who stored up more and more grain: “But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:20-21 ESV).
In some ways, those of us who live in the affluent western world are handicapped when it comes to trusting God and valuing Him as our greatest gift. We have so many other resources at hand that we don’t often need to trust Him very much. Why pray for daily bread when you have a piece of plastic that will buy all you need? Why seek Him for healing when there’s a doctor’s office on every street? Most of us expect to receive at least some inheritance from our parents, and families are often divided by fights over who gets what. The Apostle Paul frequently reminded his readers that we are heirs—“heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17). That is the only inheritance we really should be seeking. Yet we get caught up in materialism, commercialism, and self-sufficiency. It’s all about me.
How can we even begin to understand Jesus’ words in the beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12): “Blessed are the poor in spirit… those who mourn… the meek… those who hunger and thirst for righteousness… the merciful… the pure in heart… the peacemakers… those who are persecuted…”? Those traits are often the very things we try to avoid if at all possible, and even if we aren’t trying to avoid them, we aren’t actively seeking them out. (When was the last time you sought a reason to mourn?) In the parallel passage in Luke 6, Jesus is even more blunt: “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and week. Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.” That should make some of us a bit nervous! Anything that comes before God in our priorities is destined to cause us grief later.
John Piper shares this observation in Don’t Waste Your Life:
Consider a story from the February 1998 edition of Reader’s Digest, which tells about a couple who ‘took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30 foot trawler, play softball and collect shells.’ At first, when I read it I thought it might be a joke. A spoof on the American Dream. But it wasn’t. Tragically, this was the dream: Come to the end of your life—your one and only precious, God-given life—and let the last great work of your life, before you give an account to your Creator, be this: playing softball and collecting shells. Picture them before Christ at the great day of judgment: ‘Look, Lord. See my shells.’ That is a tragedy. And people today are spending billions of dollars to persuade you to embrace that tragic dream. Over against that, I put my protest: Don’t buy it. Don’t waste your life.
As Curly in the movie City Slickers points out, we need to dedicate our lives to one thing and one thing only. He said everyone has to figure out that one thing for themselves, but Jesus said that for the believer that one thing has to be God. If we get that priority right, everything else will fall into its correct place (Matthew 6:33). He is our source of life today and our inheritance forever.
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26).