“If only I had more money, I could do the things I want to do.”
“If I only had more money, then I could help people in need.”
“If I could only earn more money, I’d give the church more money, pay off our mortgage, and enroll our children in a private school, so they have an opportunity to receive a better education.”
“If only the things that I want didn’t cost so much.”
How often do we say to ourselves, “If only...”? When we talk this way, we’re confessing that we’ve turned our backs on God’s gifts. It’s willful ignorance that disdains God’s gifts because we’re never satisfied with what he’s given into our possession. Yes, we have needs, and often they are expensive. But when we conclude from those needs that “if only” we had more money or time or energy we could live a relatively satisfied life, we’re defining our lives by what we lack.
Our old Adam, sinful nature bends us towards selfishness. The world and Satan help us by surrounding us with temptations that promise to satisfy every desire and craving so we can “keep up with the Joneses.”
And yet, God’s word of law reveals the truth to us about our sinful desires. His judgments, precepts, commandments, and statutes direct us to a life of satisfaction and true eternal wealth. But because we’re only interested in what makes us happy at the moment, we hear God’s word of law as an impossible burden. That which was intended to give us life is used by sin to kill us.
In Christ Jesus, through faith, we’ve received everything we need for our bodies and lives, and life eternal.
Our heavenly Father knows our actual need and what will make us truly rich. That’s why he sends his Son, Jesus Christ. “He who did not spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32) “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Cor 8:9).
In Christ Jesus, through faith, we’ve received everything we need for our bodies and lives, and life eternal. When we’re focused on Jesus, we’re rich beyond human comprehension.
So the temptation isn’t that we turn our attention to what we don’t have, but that we turn our attention away from Christ. We look for contentment in earthly things. We understand riches and wealth in terms of material possessions. But according to God’s word, what we need is what he accomplished for us on the cross. Our riches and wealth - forgiveness, life, and eternal salvation - are wrapped in words, water, bread, and wine.
It’s easy to turn our attention away from Jesus crucified to the kind of riches and wealth that the world and Satan offer us. But, before long, we’re saying to ourselves again, “If only...” We’re never satisfied, and why should we be? There’s always more that we want to do. There’s always someone in need. There’s always some problem that can be solved if only we could throw more money at it. If the old Adam had a motto, that’s what it would be: “There’s always something!”
At Calvary, riches greater and higher than the heavens and wealth deeper than the depths of any sea are lifted up and stretched out on an execution stake for us.
But at the cross of Jesus, there’s our everything. All that we need to know about ourselves, the world, and Satan is revealed on the cross. At Calvary, riches greater and higher than the heavens and wealth deeper than the depths of any sea are lifted up and stretched out on an execution stake for us. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, who endured all our “if onlys” and nailed them to his cross, promises, “I AM with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt 28:20). In him, we are rich beyond any measure of wealth because we’ve inherited the kingdom of God and the most valuable possession of all: eternal life.