The Riches of God
Ephesians has recently become one of my favorite books in the Bible. I love the way it unpacks deep theology about relationships, both with God and others, and provides practical applications for how we should live. In the first three chapters– where Paul is building his theological foundation– the word riches is used 6 times.
Riches are used to describe God’s grace (1:7, 2:7), his glorious inheritance for his children (1:18), his mercy (2:4), his glory (3:16), and Christ himself (3:8).
That God is rich is not a hard statement for us to recognize or agree with. If God is infinite and sovereign, he has everything in the palm of his hand and is therefore rich, possessing all.
But what does God do with his riches? That is the question.
What does God do with his riches, and how can we emulate Him with our own riches?
We don’t have to look far into the letter to see how God spent his riches. In the first chapter, Paul asserts that “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:7-10).
That’s a mouthful, for sure, but it’s a sentence packed with beautiful truth. Let’s look at a couple of points about how God has spent his riches.
1) God has lavished his riches upon us.
The word lavished is perisseuo in the Greek, meaning “to be over and above, to abound.” It is to exceed the necessary. Not only are we saved from our spiritual death by Jesus’ blood, but we are made heirs to God’s extravagant riches. He has exceeded what was necessary and blessed us extraordinarily. Think about the father in the story of the prodigal son; he not only received his son back into his home but eagerly celebrated his return with newfound blessings.
2) God has lavished his riches upon us wisely and according to his ultimate purpose.
Don’t miss this second point. God, knowing all things, working in accordance with his great plan of redemption from eternity past, lavished his riches upon us undeserving humans. It wasn’t a flippant, careless wasting of his resources. He didn’t throw his riches away as we might in a moment of poor financial judgment. He counted the cost. He knew what it would mean for him to lavish these riches upon us, and yet he decided that this was the best way he could use them.
God’s generosity is directly connected to his overarching plan to unite heaven and earth and restore the world to the Edenic order.
So how do we respond?
1) With thanksgiving
We didn’t deserve an ounce of his riches to be lavished on us, and yet he did. He is our Good Father, and we respond with genuine gratitude and thanksgiving for the spiritual riches we have received in Christ (the riches that far exceed our earthly riches, whether we have them or not).
2) With imitation
If God knew that his riches were better lavished upon others than stored for himself, we should respond by imitating him in trust and obedience.
Our generosity is informed by Christ’s generosity. We extend our riches– spiritual, material, and everything in between– to those around us to live out God’s plan of restoring Eden. And we don’t only extend them to those we deem as worthy, whatever that means. Like God, our riches are lavished on others not because the recipient is deserving, but because the ultimate Giver receives glory as a result.
So use your riches with wisdom, and do so according to God’s ultimate purpose. How do you steward your time, talents, and treasures for the kingdom? Are they riches you store up to use for yourself, building your own kingdom, or are they riches that will be lavished to glorify God?