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WORLDLY WEALTH AND THE KINGDOM OF GOD

"We live in a materialistic world. Some become confused and seek identity through riches or the accolades of men," said Presiding Bishop Victor L. Brown in an April 1983 general conference address.

Bishop Brown referred to two New Testament stories, one of a ruler who desired eternal life, the other of a man who was rich but coveted his riches and would not share his wealth with the poor.To the ruler who asked what he must do to inherit eternal life, the Savior said, "Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother." (Luke 18:20.)

When the ruler said he had kept those commandments from his youth up, the Savior replied: "Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me." (Luke 18:22.)

The story continues: "And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.

"And when Jesus saw that he was sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!" (Luke 18:23-24.)

After relating the account of the young ruler, Bishop Brown said, "It was not that the man was rich but that he coveted his riches and would not share his wealth with the poor."

Bishop Brown then cited the Savior's parable of the man who, when his fields produced plentifully, tore down existing barns and built greater ones in which to store his fruits and goods. The man said: "And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.

"But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?

"So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." (Luke 12:19-21.)

Bishop Brown said: "Contrast these with the story of a 16-year-old priest who answered the telephone one day to hear the voice of a popular disc jockey on a local radio station. He was asked a question, and when he answered it correctly was informed he had won an expensive sports car. It seemed like a dream come true for a teenage boy.

"A loving bishop was concerned about what such a car might to do the boy, thinking it might draw him away from all we hold dear. He asked him about his feelings. The bishop could hardly believe his ears when the young man indicated he was not going to take the car but would accept a cash award instead. He said, `Now my mission is paid for.'

"What an outstanding example of proper balance in an attitude toward worldly wealth or recognition and Christlike values."