‘Comfort’ Meditations No.18: Accept no Substitute
Lk 6:24 “woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.”
‘Middle Class’ is a term that has come to summarize any family of reasonable income in the West that is not constantly struggling to make ends meet – careful maybe, but not struggling! In some communities these are families where income exceeds expenditure and produces a growing bank balance – it may not be much, but it is slowly, at least, growing (until we spend it on a holiday!)
Now you may think that such considerations are unnecessary in the midst of thoughts of meeting the needs for comfort. However, my earlier suggestion that most of us need comfort at some time or other is not changed by income. It may be a greater need when we are having difficulties in making ends meet, but my aim here is to face the situation where finances don’t appear to be a particular problem and it is at this point that we turn to our starter verse.
In the light of what we have considered so far this month, this is a terrible verse, for in it Jesus is suggesting that those who are rich have substituted ‘financial comfort’ that can be depleted (Mt 6:19), for real comfort from God. When we enter into the comfort that God brings, it is all-embracing, empowering and life changing.
‘Nice homes’, money in the bank, gradually increasing income, etc., are good to have but when we place our reliance on our homes, they can so easily deteriorate, even fall down, and inflation and other issues wear away what we have in the bank. The Message version nicely puts Mt 6:19, “Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars.” But that is only part of the problem. The bigger part is that God has not made us to be ‘satisfied’ or ‘comforted’ by material things, although the enemy will seek to con us to believe that they do.
The reality is that it is ONLY God’s presence that brings a sense of peace and, when we are in a right relationship with Him, a sense of wholeness, fulfilment in life etc. Goods, possessions etc., are good to have and I believe God would have us seek Him for wisdom to bring about such a community of material as well as spiritual blessing, but the priority order must always be the other way round – spiritual then material. When we reverse the order then the spiritual soon gets pushed out leaving us self-focused rather than God-focused. So, a concluding question: are we more concerned to use our money to keep earning more, (and build bigger barns – Lk 12:18) or use our money in the kingdom of God to bless others? The latter choice requires faith and wisdom and truly establishes comfort in our lives.