"Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the LORD for help."(NIV) Does the relationship between financial wealth and poverty have anything to do with "crying out to the LORD for help"? Do we fail to cry out to the LORD because we are not impoverished yet? Does the United States fail to look to the LORD because of our wealth?
In Luke 12:15 Jesus says, "Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possession." Following this statement, Jesus tells a parable about a wealthy man. His land was so productive there was no room in the barns to store the crops. (If you read the passage, notice the number of times the pronoun "I" is used. There is no acknowledgment of God providing this abundant crop.) So the farmer decides to tear down his old barns and build larger ones to store all his stuff. His wealth was so great he concluded all he had left in life to do was "relax, eat, drink and be merry." But God had other plans, "Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?" The farmer's perspective of the future was too short, don't you think? Jesus follows with this statement, "So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God." Reminds me of Jesus' statement "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
In Mark 10:23 Jesus declares, "How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!" It's easy when you are cash flush to think everything is okay. When that occurs our natural tendency is to think, I can take care of myself, just look at how well I have done. Therefore, I am dependent on no one.
Proverbs 30:8-9 says, "Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, 'Who is the LORD?' or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God."
I think this proverb is the appropriate prayer for this comment. Don't you?
Wasn't Cornelius a good man? Just look at his credentials. He was a Roman army officer, yet he was a devout man who feared God and leads his family to do the same. He generously helped the poor and continually prayed, just as Paul commands in 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
The problem for Cornelius and all of us is what Jesus told the rich young ruler in Luke 18:18-22. After the young man had referred to Jesus as "Good Teacher," Jesus asked "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone." We all tend to think we are good even though throughout the Bible we are told no man is good. (For example see Psalm 14:1-3, Jeremiah 17:9 and Romans 3:10-18.) Cornelius lacked one thing, just like the rich young man who Jesus told "One thing, you still lack." He did not know Jesus.
God used this event to instruct both Cornelius and Peter. He used Peter to teach Cornelius and his household that Jesus is Lord of all, and He used Cornelius to teach Peter salvation has come to the Gentiles just as it has to the Jews.
Oh LORD God, You alone are good. Forgive us for thinking our credentials are enough to stand before You. Thank You for revealing salvation to both the Jew and the Gentile through Your Son Jesus, who is LORD of all.
I just recently heard this song and thought you would enjoy it too. Man Of The Tombs by Bob Bennett.