Three people fervently discussed how they had each crashed on a deserted island, and how they had each come to be rescued.
The Canadian began: “I was rescued within a week. All I needed to do is write S.O.S. on the sand of the beach. It wasn’t too bad!”
The German laughed: “That’s nothing. I was rescued within three days.”
“How did you do that?” The Canadian asked, flabbergasted.
“Simple. I built a bon-fine and the German authorities noticed it.”
“Not bad!” Said the American, “but I was rescued within 3 hours.”
“3 hours! That’s impossible!” Exclaimed both the Canadian and the German.
“It’s simple. I wrote in big letters on the sand: OIL.”
A glint of mischief danced in my youngest son’s eye as he told me this joke. We were visiting the Eastern Passage in Nova Scotia at the time, and with a big grin on his face, he bent down and drew the word “OIL” in the sand.
“That was just a joke,” I told him. “It won’t really happen, especially not here!”
“Really?” Was his innocent response. “Then why is there a helicopter up in the sky?”
Sure enough, there was one!
And then the same thing happened in Bar Harbor, Maine. Again my son drew the word “OIL” on the sand, and five minutes later, a helicopter was hovering over our heads.
We got a kick out of these incidences, but in all reality, our world is dominated by an obsession for money. “The more the better” has become the philosophy of many. But did you notice that those who are rich are often never satisfied? They tend to always want more and more.
According to the standards of this world, most people in North America and Europe are rich. Don’t believe it? Then compare the average welfare checks to the income of the majority of the world’s population, who earn a dollar or less a day! Those in the western world ARE rich, and we don’t even know it!
“But I don’t feel like I am rich,” you may say.
But in truth, those who the western world considers rich don’t necessarily feel rich either! Otherwise why would they always be striving for more?
The same is true spiritually. Here in the West we have an abundance of knowledge, spiritual knowledge, but so often we don’t know what to do with it. People from less fortunate countries would welcome our knowledge with open arms.
But how regularly do we use this knowledge? How often do we share, even with our closest friends, the beauty of the gospel message? How frequently do we portray love to one another? It’s as if we have built ourselves a walking, fortified, bullet-proof hut where no one is welcome unless invited, and even then these are scrutinized carefully.
Jesus sees our actions completely differently: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.” (Rev 3:15-18 NIV)
Truly Jesus does not see us to often as being spiritually rich at all. His richness comes from the heart: “Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?” (James 2:5 NIV)
“Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” (1 Cor 8:1 NIV)
Maybe it’s time we stop drawing the word “oil” in the sand, and instead, start building up those in need. A life is shallow if it can’t share love from High above.
May our eyes be opened about our true condition. May we wake up and start covering our nakedness (We truly aren’t that attractive to the world!) with the love that shines forth from Christ. Only then will we truly be rich!
(To access the entire “Awake!” devotional series, please click here.)