Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all
We mistakenly assume there are great divisions between classes of people, imagining such things as that the rich live on a significantly better level than the poor, that the celebrity enjoys life more than an unknown one among the common masses, that the mover and shaker has advantages over others in all things.
We should not debate that there are some benefits to having some money, some advantages to having power, and perhaps even a few pluses for the fleeting idea of having prestige among people - but they are not nearly as large as we imagine them to be. We also should consider the words of Christ, “To whom much is given much shall be required” (Luke 12:48). And when we stand before God the matter of how many privileges we enjoyed that others did not, will not be impressive to Him. The issue will always be: What did we do with our opportunities?
Thomas a Kempis wrote about wisdom: “The more you know and the better you understand, the more severely will you be judged, unless your life is also the more holy. Do not be proud, therefore, because of your learning or skill. Rather, fear because of the talent given you. If you think you know many things and understand them well enough, realize at the same time that there is much you do not know. Hence, do not affect wisdom, but admit your ignorance. Why prefer yourself to anyone else when many are more learned, more cultured than you?”
These words can also apply to every advantage we gain in life, to everything we have that others have not, whether money, fame, power, talent, opportunity, praise, or health. At the end of our life we must give an account to our Maker. The poor man stands with no disadvantage before God, and the rich man stands with no advantage before the same God - in fact on that day it will be much better to have been an honest poor man than a dishonest rich man. So if God has chosen in this physical life to bless us, if we have been given opportunities that others have not received, and even if we have through our determination and effort achieved anything, we should remain humble before God.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying the fruit of our labor, as Ecclesiastes reads, “I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil-this is the gift of God” (Eccl. 3:12-13). But we also read, “But know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment” (Eccl. 11:9). So we must keep responsibility and accountability before us and to humbly accept even the success we gain with our own hands.
Even the longest physical life is less than an eye-blink compared to eternity. The one who lives only thirty years and the one who dies near one hundred will both see their earthly life as a distant whiff or ancient smoke in eternity. The supreme question at all times for us is whether we are preparing for eternity. Only the grace of God in Christ will gain us entrance into God’s heaven, only our faith in Him will please God on our day of judgment, but then for believers, at the Judgment Seat of Christ, we must still give account before Him of how we lived our lives.
The best words we can ever hear are found in the good news Christ gave to a paralyzed man, “Your sins are forgiven.” Our hears long to know that our sins are atoned for, that we are cleansed and forgiven, that God has accepted us through our faith Christ, accepted us on the basis of what Christ achieved. We long to hear Him say, “Enter into the joy of the Lord!”
But next to these are the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” All that we achieve is by grace, by His power - certainly this is true - but we are to be involved in this process. We must choose to follow Him in our thoughts and actions. Have you thanked Him today for the blessings you have received? Are you choosing today to use your opportunities for Him? That is the issue for all of us.