Riches That Come From God
IF YOU are faithful to God, will he bless you with riches? Perhaps, but probably not with the sort of riches you expect. Consider Mary, the mother of Jesus. The angel Gabriel appeared to her and said that she was “highly favored” by God and that she would give birth to the Son of God. (Luke 1:28, 30-32) Yet, she was not wealthy. When Mary offered a sacrifice after Jesus’ birth, she presented “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,” which was the customary offering that poor people made to Jehovah.—Luke 2:24; Leviticus 12:8.
Did the fact that Mary was poor mean that she did not have God’s blessing? On the contrary, when she went to visit Elizabeth, her relative, “Elizabeth was filled with holy spirit, and she called out with a loud cry and said: ‘Blessed are you [Mary] among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!’” (Luke 1:41, 42) Mary was privileged to become the earthly mother of God’s beloved Son.
Jesus himself was not a rich man. Not only was he born and brought up in humble surroundings but he was poor throughout his life on earth. He once told a man who was seeking to be a disciple: “Foxes have dens and birds of heaven have roosts, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay down his head.” (Luke 9:57, 58) Nevertheless, what Jesus Christ did in coming to the earth made it possible for his disciples to come into possession of great riches. The apostle Paul wrote: “He became poor for your sakes, that you might become rich through his poverty.” (2 Corinthians 8:9) What kind of riches did Jesus give his disciples? And what about today?
What Kind of Riches?
Material wealth is often an obstacle to faith, since a rich person may trust in his money rather than in God. Jesus said: “How difficult a thing it will be for those with money to enter into the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:23) Evidently, then, the riches Jesus offered his followers were not material ones.
In fact, the majority of Christians in the first century were of limited means. When a man lame from birth asked for money, Peter replied: “Silver and gold I do not possess, but what I do have is what I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk!”—Acts 3:6.
The words of the disciple James also indicate that the Christian congregation was basically composed of poor people. He wrote: “Listen, my beloved brothers. God chose the ones who are poor respecting the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he promised to those who love him, did he not?” (James 2:5) Furthermore, the apostle Paul also said that not many “wise in a fleshly way” or “powerful” or “of noble birth” were called to become part of the Christian congregation.—1 Corinthians 1:26.
If the riches that Jesus gave his followers were not material ones, what kind of riches did he give them? In a letter that Jesus sent to the congregation in Smyrna, he said: “I know your tribulation and poverty—but you are rich.” (Revelation 2:8, 9) The Christians at Smyrna, though poor, possessed riches far more valuable than silver or gold. They were rich because of their faith and integrity to God. Faith of itself is precious because it “is not a possession of all people.” (2 Thessalonians 3:2) Those not having faith are actually poor in God’s eyes.—Revelation 3:17, 18.
Riches That Result From Faith
In what ways, though, is faith valuable? Those with faith in God benefit from “the riches of his kindness and forbearance and long-suffering.” (Romans 2:4) They also enjoy “forgiveness of [their] trespasses” because of their faith in Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. (Ephesians 1:7) Furthermore, theirs is the wisdom that “the word of the Christ” brings to those who have faith. (Colossians 3:16) As they pray to God in faith, “the peace of God that excels all thought” guards their hearts and minds, bringing them contentment and happiness.—Philippians 4:7.
In addition to all these benefits, those who put faith in God through his Son, Jesus Christ, have the marvelous prospect of life everlasting. Well-known are the words of Jesus Christ: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) That precious prospect is strengthened when one gains accurate knowledge of the Father and the Son, for Jesus also said: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.”—John 17:3.
While God’s blessings are basically of a spiritual kind, there are emotional and physical benefits as well. Take, for example, Dalídio in Brazil. Before coming to an accurate knowledge of God’s purpose, he had a drinking problem. This had a very destructive effect on his family relationships. In addition, his financial situation was precarious. Then he began to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses and experienced a remarkable transformation.
Dalídio’s newfound knowledge led him to abandon his harmful habits. He made so much spiritual progress that he said, “I used to go from bar to bar; now I go from house to house.” He had become a full-time minister of God’s Word. Such a change improved not only his health but also his financial situation. Dalídio said, “The money that I used to spend on drink, I now use to help others in need or to buy things that I need.” He has also made many real friends through his association with people who have a similar spiritual outlook. Dalídio now enjoys peace of mind and contentment beyond anything he could have imagined before coming to know God.
For another example of the life-enriching experiences that come to those who develop faith in Jehovah God, consider Renato. When you see his happy, smiling face today, it is difficult to believe that he has had every reason to feel that he had been given a raw deal in life. When he was a newborn baby, he was abandoned by his mother. He was left in a bag under a bench, badly scratched and bruised and with his umbilical cord still attached. Two women walked by and saw the bag under the bench moving. They at first thought that someone had left a kitten there. When they discovered that it was a newborn baby, they quickly took him to a nearby hospital for treatment.
One of the women was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and she told Rita, another Witness, about the baby. Rita had suffered a number of stillbirths, and she had just one daughter. She very much wanted a son, so she decided to adopt Renato.
Rita told Renato at an early age that she was not his real mother. But she cared for him with love and affection and sought to instill spiritual values in him. As he grew older, he began to take an interest in the Bible. His appreciation for the almost unbelievable way that he had been saved also grew. His eyes fill with tears every time he reads the psalmist David’s words: “In case my own father and my own mother did leave me, even Jehovah himself would take me up.”—Psalm 27:10.
As an expression of his appreciation for all that Jehovah has done for him, Renato was baptized in 2002 and became a full-time Christian minister the following year. He still does not know the identity of his biological father and mother and probably never will. However, Renato feels that one of the most precious gifts that he has received is coming to know and to have faith in Jehovah as his loving and caring Father.
Perhaps you long to have a close and loving relationship with God, which can truly enrich your life. The opportunity to have such a relationship with Jehovah God and his Son, Jesus Christ, is open to all—rich and poor. It may not bring material wealth, but it will result in an inner peace and contentment that all the money in the world cannot buy. True indeed are the words found at Proverbs 10:22: “The blessing of Jehovah—that is what makes rich, and he adds no pain with it.”
Jehovah God is very much interested in people who come to him: “O if only you would actually pay attention to my commandments! Then your peace would become just like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” (Isaiah 48:18) And he promises that those who come to him with the right motive and attitude will be richly rewarded: “The result of humility and the fear of Jehovah is riches and glory and life.”—Proverbs 22:4.
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Faith in God results in peace, contentment, and happiness
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Though materially poor, Jesus’ earthly family was richly blessed by God