Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Pleasure Makes for a Poor Man

"Whoever loves pleasure will become a poor man." Proverbs 21:17 This passage brings my mind to the parables that Jesus taught. The Rich Fool, The Rich Young Ruler, The Prodigal Son, The Rich Man and Lazuras, and there is a section in Ecclesiastes that comes to mind. Before we look at those, I would like to point out what kind of pleasures Proverbs is speaking of.The Bible has a lot to say about riches, poverty,  and pleasures. The second part of the Proverbs verse says: " whoever loves wine and oil will not be rich. This leads me to conclude that this particular verse is speaking of worldly pleasures. Such as possessions and pleasures of the flesh. Seeking these things makes us poor. Not only in body, but in mind and spirit.

Luke 12:13-21 is the parable of the Rich Fool. It quotes:
"Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." But he said to him, "Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?" And he said to them, "Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." And he told them a parable, saying, "The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, 'What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?' And he said, 'I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.' 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 12:13-21 ESV)
In Verse 15 Jesus speaks about guarding yourself from greed. Worldly pleasure can be turned into greed. And because it can, it makes for a terrible person. Selfish and unkind. A person whose pleasures and treasures are in the wrong place.

In Ecclesiastes 2 it says:
"I said in my heart, "Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself." But behold, this also was vanity. I said of laughter, "It is mad," and of pleasure, "What use is it?" I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine--my heart still guiding me with wisdom--and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees... Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 2:1-6,11, ESV)
In Ecclesiastes we find that the pleasure being sought is good and profitable, and it makes him rich. Useful pleasure gives a man great gain. Yet, it to, is vanity. Why would useful pleasure be vanity? The pleasure being spoken of here is a pleasure that builds treasures on earth instead of in heaven. When we seek things of this world, we need to make sure that the pleasure we seek stores treasures in heaven, not on earth. 

In Luke 18 we find the parable of the Rich Young Ruler, who says to Christ:
 "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.'" And he said, "All these I have kept from my youth." When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, "How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God." Those who heard it said, "Then who can be saved?" But he said, "What is impossible with men is possible with God." (Luke 18:18-27 ESV)
The Rich Young Rulers pleasure, was in his wealth. Even though he sought his pleasures- his riches- over Christ, he did not become poor in reality, but he became poor in spirit and did not store his treasures in heaven.

This leads me on to the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazuras. 
"There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.' But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish."
(Luke 16:19-25 ESV) The Rich Man took pleasure in all his riches and glory,  having all his good things on earth. The Scraps the dogs ate were not even given to Lazuras. If they had been, the rich man may have had riches in heaven for "having had a kindness shown". Again, we see the rich man was poor in spirit and his after life. Riches on earth are a vanity.

Lastly, we look at the Prodigal Son. And he said, " 'There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.' And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. "But when he came to himself, he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants."' And he arose and came to his father..." (Luke 15:11-20 ESV) Again, we see pleasures in riches, parties, and possessions. Everything he owned  was gone, and he decided to become a servant in his fathers house. Asking his forgiveness, and begging to be a servant just so he can have some decent meals. Here we see repentance. The Parable continues:
"... But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his servants, 'Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. " (Luke 15:20-23 ESV) Because of this man's repentance and shame, he was forgiven! His poor state was no longer poor. His repentance not only gave him riches in heaven, but also restored him to his fathers love. This parable helps us see that when we give up our worldly pleasures, when we repent, it makes us rich in mind, spirit, and body. It makes us rich in CHRIST! 

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