Stolen Poultry

17 08 2008

Like a partridge that hatches eggs it did not lay is the man who gains riches by unjust means. When his life is half gone, they will desert him, and in the end he will prove to be a fool.” (Jeremiah 17:11)

It was commonly believed that the partridge would steal eggs from other birds’ nests and hatch them as its own. Eventually, however, the pilfered birds would leave and return to their own kind. God used this example from nature to teach an important lesson through His prophet Jeremiah. Those who get riches through unrighteousness are like the nest-robbing partridge. Whatever they gain eventually deserts them, and they end up looking stupid.

Everybody’s trying to gain something. The old bumper sticker that says, “Whoever has the most toys at the end wins!” seems to be the operational creed of most folk in our generation. The quest for fame and wealth, power and reputation drives the daily pursuits of folk inside and outside of the church. But most are no different from Jeremiah’s foolish partridge. They’re stealing eggs from other nests and passing them off as their own, because they’re gaining riches by injustice.

There are some who enrich themselves by theft. These are not just the thugs that knock over stores and mug old ladies on the street. They’re also the ordinary folks who cheat on their taxes, or pinch a few dollars from the petty cash drawer when nobody’s looking. And they’re the churchgoers who think all they get is their own and never give a dime to the Lord’s work. They’re the preachers who lazily feed God’s sheep with watered down fluff and collect a paycheck like they’re serving up a five star banquet.

There are some who enrich themselves by deceit. They twist the truth in order to gain the applause of men and pump up their bank balances by preying on the gullible. They sell products that they know are not worth the price, or offer services they have no intention of delivering.

There are some who enrich themselves by murder. You don’t have to be a mafia hit man to fall into this category. It also includes business men who sell faulty products with no regard for their effects on the lives of the consumer; or even preachers who kill the souls of God’s children by filling them with errors and heresy or simply depriving them of the life-giving truth and get rich in the process.

Some folk get rich by misusing religion, and these are the worst kind of partridges. They’re the hypocrites who pretend to serve Jesus and use His holy name so they can squeeze dollars from His people and build their own personal kingdoms.

But God says plainly, all those who get riches through injustice, deceit, murder and theft will see those riches fly away, and will be seen in the end to be as foolish as the partridge that sat on stolen eggs. What they had was not their own, and what they’re left with will be worse than nothing.

Now read what Jesus says in Luke 11:9-13…

So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

If you want an egg, you don’t have to steal it from some other bird’s nest. You just need to ask your heavenly Father. But notice what the egg is! Jesus said that if we earthly fathers, though we are evil, know how to give our children an egg instead of a scorpion when they ask, then how much more will God give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!

Luke 11:9-13 is not a proof text for getting rich by asking God for worldly prosperity. Jesus is directing us to the true riches that we ought to be seeking. Real prosperity is the presence of Christ in the heart in the person of the Holy Spirit. That kind of wealth cannot be stolen. We need to get our hearts and our eyes off of the world and its empty promises of gain and set them instead on the pursuit of Christ and His indwelling presence, which is better than all the riches this world can ever produce.

How do we get this precious “egg”? Ask… seek… knock… with a sincere heart and genuine faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Seek the eternal treasure that can’t be taken away. Everything else is stolen poultry.

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