Amos 8:4 “Hear this, you who trample the needy and do away with the poor of the land, saying, ‘When will the New Moon be over that we may sell grain, and the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat?'”
Out of love for his people, God made sure they had a day to rejuvenate their bodies and continue to grow spiritually. That was the Sabbath. The New Moon festivals were another day the Israelites took off voluntarily. Once a month it gave them rest and time in God’s word.
Amos was talking to people whose priorities were out of line. They weren’t so concerned about whether they were growing spiritually. They didn’t care whether their faith got any stronger. They didn’t care whom they ran over in their headlong rush to make a buck. They went through the motions of keeping the Sabbath, but their heart wasn’t in it. All they cared about was making money. These days off started to look like a nuisance. “When will they be over?” they asked. They sound like Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol complaining about how much money he was losing by giving Bob Cratchit Christmas Day off with pay and closing the shop.
We are not so different from the people in Amos’s day. We live in Christian freedom about the specific time we choose to rest our bodies and souls. But money is a concern each of us has. No matter how much of it we have, it is hard to convince ourselves it’s enough. It’s easy to let money concerns crowd God’s word out of our lives, too.
The issue isn’t just “going to church.” It is being concerned about our spiritual growth. Do we cheat ourselves out of daily time in God’s word because we are too busy making money? Do we pass up opportunities to study God’s word in Bible classes because we are too busy making money? Do we refuse to offer the Lord time to serve him because we are too busy making money? Not everyone has to be at every worship service or Bible class offered. But God wants a stronger and deeper faith to be more important than a stronger and deeper pocketbook.
This overdeveloped urge to make money has plagued believers through the ages. In the sermon on the mount Jesus warned against worrying about “What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or What shall we wear?” Martin Luther once overheard a member of his church say after the service, “What do we care about heaven? What we need is flour!” To such concerns Jesus replies, “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
Rather than focusing life on making money, look at the spiritual wealth and riches we already have. Having the kingdom of heaven is like finding a treasure, or a priceless pearl, Jesus says. Can you put a value on a soul? The Bible says the cost of a soul exceeds all human payment. Yet Jesus purchased each of our souls by his blood. Then he gave them back to us forever. Paul regards this a treasure, “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake became poor, that you, through his poverty might become rich.” Our riches are all the wealth of eternal life and heaven.
And God is giving it all away in the next Bible class, the next Sunday service, the next quiet time you have with a Bible or devotional book. Make plans now to attend.