Location. Location. Location.
Almost everyone knows the meaning of this famous real estate maxim. Real estate values are determined by location. The more desirable the location, the higher the asking price.
For example, properties in old but gentrified neighborhoods gain their high value from their proximity to their city’s downtown. But properties in far-flung neighborhoods in the same city can be sold for just a few dollars.
This principle applies to society, too. Birds of a feather flock together, so the saying goes. People do too, which is why friends in high places don’t often share the same zip code as friends in low places.
Location matters. A lot.
What matters even more, though, is understanding that this principle has incredibly high stakes. From Scripture’s perspective, those who use their wealth to garner favor and privilege now will be refused favor and privilege in the next life.
Jesus’ most graphic stories illustrate this point. Like the story of the rich farmer who gluttonously consumed his wealth while the beggar Lazarus languished right outside of his gated property. The tables turn, however, when the rich farmer languishes for eternity in hell while Lazarus is forever robed in heaven’s glory, unable to even offer a drop of water to the suffering farmer.
Then there’s Jesus’ story about the rich farmer who, instead of sharing his bumper crop with the poor, built bigger barns instead. His abundance promised a lifetime of merrymaking and gluttony. Except on the same day he finished building his bigger barns, his life is taken from him.
James mirrors Jesus’ teaching by issuing a warning to those who use wealth to cushion their lifestyle, while neglecting and even oppressing the poor: “Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.” (James 5:3, NIV)
But for Jesus’ followers, this teaching is more comfort than warning. It’s easy to get worn down in a world where the ability to buy privilege and power is idealized. And it doesn’t take much to drink the Kool-Aid, either. Pesky dreams of greater wealth for greater favor can be hard to resist.
This wisdom from Scripture helps, especially when those who spuriously use wealth seem to get away with it. It’s important to know that there’s a cause and effect when it comes to money. Every dollar spent today translates to eternity, one way or another.
The faithful keep this in mind when stewarding their wealth. Instead of clamoring for prime real estate and fancy friends, they cater to the forgotten places and the people who live in them.
When it comes to money, they know there’s a key Kingdom principle at work: Location. Location. Location.
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