Tuesday, January 30, 2007

THE POVERTY OF RICHES



“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;” (1 Timothy 6:17 18).
This morning as I was driving to the church I heard a small portion of the Bill O’Reilly radio program and a statement he made caught my attention. He said that "people who love money and make it their life’s pursuit lose their humanity in the process”. Although I am not absolutely certain how he would define that ‘loss of humanity’ I believe it has a lot to do with the compromise of their personal integrity at the expense of others. When it comes to the danger of riches the Bible speaks with clarity and precision -“the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows (1 Timothy 6:10) . Notice that it is not money “per se” that is the root of all evil, but “the love of money”. Money is neither good nor bad. There is no inherent virtue in riches or poverty. In a sense it is neutral commodity. "Abraham was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold" (Genesis 13:2) and he walked with God, irrespective of his riches. To the contrary, there are many poor people in this world who have no relationship with God. It is not how much money we possess or don’t possess that is the real problem for the majority of us. The problem surfaces when the money we have, or the lack thereof, begin to possess us. When money “takes hold of us” we fall into the sin of greed and idolatry. We begin to worship a false god whom we see as the source of our happiness. When the lack of it begins to dominate our thought life we fall into the sins of discontentedness and envy. Here too, God is not seen as the true and lasting source of joy. Little wonder that Satan has used money and other riches to capture the hearts of multitudes and lead them astray. It was the love of money that led Balaam to agree to curse Israel, although he could not (Numbers 22-24) . It was the love of riches that caused a certain ruler to refuse Christ’s invitation to “follow Him” and “go away sorrowful” (Luke 18:18-23). It was the love of silver, a measly thirty pieces that led Judas to betray Jesus (Matthew 26:14-15) after enjoying ‘rich’ fellowship with Him and seeing His miracles. The danger of riches is real. It is an ever-present danger. Proverbs 28:2 warns, “He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him. The poverty mentioned here can take many different forms. Oftentimes it includes broken relationships. Christians beware; we are not immune to the sins and heartaches, which flow out of a divided loyalty in the heart. Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (Matthew 5:24). You cannot serve God and money! I pray that those words will take root deep in our soul . False teachers are offering God’s people a “prosperity gospel” and many like Esau are selling their birthright for a bowl of porridge. Ponzi schemes have fleeced naive Christians for millions. Multi-level marketing plans are finding fertile ground in the church with dreams of financial independence and the freedom to pursue ones dreams. It seems like the mantra is, “enough is just a little bit more”. The truth however is another story. Many who somehow manage to “make it to the top” often discover that God isn’t there. One wonders when it will all end. The answer is 'it won’t end' until Jesus returns. Satan will continue to offer “the things of this world” to anyone seeking contentment in things other than Christ until at last“The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever (Revelation 11:15). Knowing that I too am susceptible to the temptation to pursue less worthy goals I find myself ever in need of the counsel of God’s word found in Colossians 3:1-2 : “1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. Brothers and sisters, may you find all you ever need in the riches of God’s grace. Pray for one another that we 'strive not to be rich', but rather to follow the example of the beloved apostle Paul, "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content (Philippians 4:11).

Live for Jesus,

Pastor Tom

1 comment:

GMV said...

Another great verse in this regard is Proverbs 30:8-9: "Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion, That I not be full and deny You and say, "Who is the LORD?" Or that I not be in want and steal, And profane the name of my God."

This is my prayer.