Worldly Wealth Is Fleeting
These are the readings for the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost.
God’s Word for This Week
Complacency and contentment may be near each other in the English dictionary, but Scripture sees them as worlds apart. One the Lord detests; the other, he says, is great gain. Our lessons this Sunday show God’s justice and mercy. God’s justice should terrify us. (How frightening to hear Jesus’ description of the rich man in hell!) But through his gospel, God comforts terrified sinners.
Traditional First Lesson – Amos 6:1-7
What had the children of Israel become uncaring and complacent about?
By laying around in comfort and celebration, the children of Israel showed that they were comfortable in their sins. They felt no need to turn to the Lord in repentance and plead for mercy. They also showed no concern for the “ruin of Joseph” —the fact that the nation had turned away from the Lord.
How does this serve as a lesson and warning for 21st-century believers?
Like Paul (1Cor. 10:12), it reminds us that if we think we stand firm on our own, we are a candidate for falling. Believers show love by calling one another to repentance and sharing the promise of forgiveness in Jesus.
Supplemental First Lesson – Ecclesiastes 5:8-20
What is one of the problems with loving money? (See 5:10.)
One problem with loving money is that it never satisfies. “Whoever loves money never has money enough. Whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income” (5:10).
What is another problem? (See 5:11.)
Another problem with loving money is that the more things you have, the more people you need to hire (at least now and then, like at a repair shop) to fix and take care of them.
Is God’s main plan that we be as poor as possible in this life since we cannot take anything with us to heaven or hell? (See 5:18-20.)
No, God’s main plan is not to keep us as poor as possible. One of his best gifts is to keep us from the frustrations of focusing on finances instead of allowing us to enjoy whatever good things he gives us in this life.
Traditional Second Lesson – 1Timothy 6:6-16
What does Paul say that the love of money has done to many? How?
The love of money and the desire to get more leads people into many harmful activities and away from trust in the Lord. By making wealth the object of their desire, they replaced the Lord. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (See Luke 12:34.)
What do believers want to long after instead? Why is this godly contentment a great gain?
Like Jesus, Paul urges us to long after God’s kingdom and righteousness. We can be content in this gift from our God because its value is beyond all the wealth of this world.
Supplemental Second Lesson – Revelation 2:8-11
Were the Christians in Smyrna to whom Jesus wanted John to write this letter rich or poor?
In human terms, they were poor, but Jesus said the Christians in Smyrna were rich. How? Other places in the Bible tell us: Like us, they had all of God’s grace in Christ and the down payment of the Spirit of Christ, guaranteeing glory with God to come. (See 2 Corinthians 1:22.)
What does the example of these Christians teach us about our finances?
The Christians in Smyrna teach us not to worry whether we have a little or a lot of money. What matters is being faithful, even to the point of death, so we may receive the crown of life from Jesus—the victory wreath he won for us by dying in our place and rising again.
Gospel – Luke 16:19-31
How had the rich man in Jesus’ account become complacent?
The rich man was secure in all the temporary luxury that this world has to offer. He was unconcerned about his own sin and guilt and where that would lead him in the future. He did not care about helping Lazarus—the beggar at his gate.
Why might Lazarus take issue with many people labeling him as poor? How does this show contentment in Christ?
The gift of eternal life with the Lord meant that Lazarus was wealthy beyond measure. Although he may have liked to have more comforts in this life, he could be content when he realized that, in eternity, he would lack nothing.