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Following Jesus: Is The Risk Worth The Reward?

Some believe the loss of one's personal fortune changes substantially who you are as a person. Would you possess less self-worth if your net worth shrunk to $0?

Devon Thorpe recently wrote an article for Forbes which is called: “The Real Reason The World Will Remember Bill Gates (Hint: It’s Not Windows 8). In this article, he focuses on Gates’ philanthropy now that he’s retired from Microsoft. 

Thorpe writes:

“Gates is famous for asking other billionaires to commit to giving away half their fortunes…Bill and Melinda have committed to giving 95% of their fortune to charity over time; that is an astounding measure of generosity.  Of course, Gates can afford to give away 95% of their fortune and still make the Forbes 400 list each year, but everything in my experience suggests that it would be just as hard to give away 95% of $60 billion as it would be to give away 95% of $6 million.  The loss of that personal fortune changes substantially who you are.”

Let me repeat what the author just said: The loss of that personal fortune changes substantially who you are.” Would you feel substantially different if your net worth was reduced to only $4.75 billion?  Would you feel like less of a person if you only had 4,750 million dollars in the bank?

Nobody here today is sitting on $60 billion.  None of you are facing the prospect of giving 95% of your fortune away before you die (If you are, please make a point to talk to me after the service).  So, such a conversation seems foolish because many people here don’t have a net worth over six figures—let alone seven.  But, if you’re like Bill Gates, your net worth presently stands at 11 figures.

Yet, what if you were sitting on $100,000?  Would you feel like less of a person if you were reduced to $5000? Or, if you only had $10,000 in your 401K, would you possess less self-worth if your net worth shrunk to a mere $500? Maybe, that’s closer to home for most of us.

As we turn to Luke 18:18-30, we find a wealthy man who faces the prospect of losing his entire fortune.  This respectable leading man of his community comes to Jesus in search of eternal life. He stands before Jesus confident that he’s made of the stuff that Jesus is looking for in a would-be follower.  After Jesus tests this rich man on his adherence to a number of the 10 commandments he answers: “All these I have kept since I was a boy.”  Luke records Jesus’ unsettling response: “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me.”

Jesus isn’t asking him to give away 95% of his fortune.  No, he’s telling him to give it ALL away.  It’s no surprise that when the rich man heard this that he walked away shaking his head in a state of great grief.  Can you blame him for walking way?  Like many successful men, he was doing his due diligence to weigh the risk of investing his life in Jesus.  Once he heard the stakes, he quickly deemed them too high for his comfort level. For him, the risk of following Jesus outweighed any reward that would come from it. 

Today, we’re each going to find out what Jesus demands from us if we’re serious about following Him.  Like the rich man, we must each decide if the risk is worth the reward.

This article is an excerpt from this Sunday's sermon.  All are welcome to join us for worship this Sunday at 10:30 am. Lighthouse Community Baptist Church is located at 22 Pequot Trail in Pawcatuck.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Ray G. Jones, Jr. January 14, 2013 at 03:06 PM
Jesus makes it clear throughout His teaching that how people use their money directly reflects their faith. What we spend our money on reflects our priorities. Jesus makes it clear that His followers are to prioritize their budgets around His Kingdom's values. There are two things worth noting. One, we live in a world where not everyone follows Jesus and therefore many don't prioritize their finances according to His teaching. Two, sadly not everyone that claims to be one of Jesus' followers obeys their Lord's commands when it comes to generosity, debt and frugality. This grieves my heart. That's why I shared this passage of Scripture with our church yesterday.
Gloria January 16, 2013 at 10:00 PM
Great article, Pastor Jones. I'm currently unemployed, but I always try to give a few bucks if I am out driving and see some man holding a sign "Homeless or Will work for food" etc. Do you KNOW how many people make fun of me for giving them some money?? They think I am a FOOL to give money to someone like that. People think it's stupid because the person is going to spend it for liquor and I always say that if that's how they decide to spend it and NEED to spend it like that, that's their business, there but for the grace of God go I. But you know what? Every time I give to someone like that, do you know what they say? They say to me: "God bless you." That makes it all worthwhile, I DO feel blessed. So people can call me silly, but I know that the good Lord Jesus is smiling down on me. Anyway, I am just telling this story so maybe someone will see this and do the same as I do. As for this article, I DO think it's great that someone like Bill Gates gives 95% of his $$ away. He's an angel right here on earth to do that.
Ray G. Jones, Jr. January 16, 2013 at 10:18 PM
Gloria, I admire your generosity. I am constantly wrestling with what is the best way to help someone in need. There are times where I believe God puts it on our hearts to err on the side of grace and generosity when we know someone may misuse the gifts we give them. But, there are also times where it's prudent to give someone a meal rather than a $20 bill. In such cases, I pray for wisdom and choose how to respond on a case-by-case basis.
Gloria January 18, 2013 at 01:57 AM
Yes, I'm sure it might not be wise to give money if I realize the person might misuse the money, but I also was taught: "Judge not, lest ye be judged." So, if they want to spend it on liquor or a drug, if that's what is needed to get them through the day, it's not for me to say. I feel it's just for me to picture Jesus standing there, and give what I can. And my son has done your idea above: he does take the time to go and buy food/a sandwich & soda for someone if they look like they haven't eaten. He's a good person, who will take the time to actually go and get something for the person.
Daniella Ruiz January 18, 2013 at 05:19 AM
gloria, i agree, true need is often misinterpreted by the ones who fail to give notice to another human, or even a kind word. it is so very easy to 'give' money, since it is a universal trade object. but to really care enough to 'give' that which is actually beneficial to another (to one that may not recognize their own needs in the haze of addiction or mental confusion) is perhaps a good indicator of the giver's empathetic integrity. being strong enough to help, to even have enough to give, and to suffer true sacrifice in the process tests us daily. where some always have need, other's have excess. that gaping difference is perhaps a signal that the basic moral and social structure of any community is fragile, broken or perhaps beyond repair. knowledge is power, i was always told that as i was growing up. however, knowledge is useless if not put into actual use, other than simply redistributed to sustain its claimed 'worth'. day after day, 'worth' is the topic of debate, optimizing it and apparently 'getting' as much of it as possible. yet not much is said of why it is so important to have excess, or to demand others have 'less' of it.

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