WISELY CONSIDERING YOUR WEALTH
Greek mythology tells the story of king Midas who had an opportunity to make a wish from one of the alleged Greek gods. This king’s desire was for wealth, so he made a foolish wish; He asked that everything he touched would turn to gold. The alleged god granted his wish. King Midas was excited about his new gift, and he went around touching different objects turning them into pure gold. When he saw his daughter, he exclaimed, “All our troubles are over!” As he hugged her, she became stiff in his arms because she had been turned into gold. At that moment, he realized how foolish his pursuit of wealth was and screamed out to the alleged Greek god to remove the wish, and he did. The king learned a valuable lesson that wealth is not that important, and that the pursuit of it can blind you to what is important in life.
The moral of this mythological story is also taught by Paul:
1 Timothy 6:6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Far too many Christians have allowed themselves to be influenced by the world when it comes to pursuit of wealth. The pursuit of wealth can destroy marriages, it can rob us of precious time we could have spent with our kids to teach them valuable lessons from God’s wisdom, and worse of all, it keep us from serving God as we should.
Some get confused and think Paul said “money is the root of all kinds of evil”, but he actual said, “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” Money itself is not evil, it is our attitude toward it, which is why Paul gives these instructions to the rich:
1 Timothy 6:17 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. 18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, 19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
The rich young ruler that came to Jesus was like this:
Matthew 19:16 Now
behold, one came and said to Him, "Good Teacher, what good thing shall I
do that I may have eternal life?" 17
So He said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but
One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the
commandments." 18 He
said to Him, "Which ones?" Jesus said, " 'You shall not murder,'
'You shall not commit adultery,' 'You shall not steal,' 'You shall not bear
false witness,' 19 'Honor
your father and your mother,' and, 'You shall love your neighbor as
yourself.' " 20 The
young man said to Him, "All these things I have kept from my youth. What
do I still lack?" 21
Jesus said to him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and
give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow
Me." 22 But when the
young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great
possessions. 23 Then
Jesus said to His disciples, "Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for
a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
24 "And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to
go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the
This young ruler was a man that loved God and wanted to be pleasing to Him, but his love for money out weighed his love for God. So, we must be careful of how much emphasis we put on our riches.
The Book of Proverbs has much to say about the value of money and our attitude toward it. Though not written by Solomon, Agur makes a plea that we should make to the Lord:
Proverbs 30:7 Two things I request of You (Deprive me not before I die): 8 Remove falsehood and lies far from me; Give me neither poverty nor riches -- Feed me with the food allotted to me; 9 Lest I be full and deny You, And say, "Who is the LORD?" Or lest I be poor and steal, And profane the name of my God.
Agur did not want to be rich or poor because he understood the temptations either situation brings, so he wanted to have just the right amount. Even if we find ourselves poor for awhile or have times of prosperity, as Christians, we are always rich spiritual no matter what our net worth is (2 Cor. 8:9).
2 Corinthians 8:9 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.
It is far better to be rich spiritual through Jesus, than to be rich materially because we cannot take our material riches with us when we die, but our spiritual riches will be with us throughout eternity (Mt. 6:19-21)
Matthew 6:19 " Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 "but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
The idea of spiritual treasures being better than material ones is taught throughout the Book of Proverbs:
Proverbs 15:6 In the house of the righteous there is much treasure, But in the revenue of the wicked is trouble.
Proverbs 15:16 Better is a little with the fear of the LORD, Than great treasure with trouble.
Proverbs 28:6 Better is the poor who walks in his integrity Than one perverse in his ways, though he be rich.
Solomon even says that a good name is better than riches (Prov. 22:1).
Many have the false notion that money will solve all their problems so they will work two or three jobs while they are young thinking they can work less when they get older. In doing so, they neglect their families and lose sight of putting God first in their life. As Solomon said:
Proverbs 23:4 Do not overwork to be rich; Because of your own understanding, cease! 5 Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle toward heaven. 6 Do not eat the bread of a miser, Nor desire his delicacies; 7 For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. "Eat and drink!" he says to you, But his heart is not with you. 8 The morsel you have eaten, you will vomit up, And waste your pleasant words.
If we start out pursing riches first then it will become our God, and while we think we slow down later in life, we will not because we will never be satisfied with how much we have.
Proverbs 27:20 Hell and Destruction are never full; So the eyes of man are never satisfied.
Solomon understood just how worthless material things are when he said:
Ecclesiastes 2:10 Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, For my heart rejoiced in all my labor; And this was my reward from all my labor. 11 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done And on the labor in which I had toiled; And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun.
If we allow ourselves to reach the point where money becomes our priority then we will become separated from God (1 Tim. 6:9).
1 Timothy 6:9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.
Jesus us warns about making our riches one of our masters:
Matthew 6:24 " No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
Jesus uses Solomon, one the richest men that has ever lived, as example of how we should not worry about worldly success and how we should make God and His kingdom our priority:
Matthew 6:2 "
Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what
you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more
than food and the body more than clothing?
26 "Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow
nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you
not of more value than they? 27
"Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 28 "So why do you worry about
clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil
nor spin; 29 "and yet I
say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of
these. 30 "Now if God so
clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the
oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little
faith? 31 "Therefore do
not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What
shall we wear?' 32 "For
after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that
you need all these things. 33
"But seek first the
Solomon teaches us that the rich are not any better than the poor in His because He created us all:
Proverbs 22:2 The rich and the poor have this in common, The LORD is the maker of them all.
However, Solomon has nothing good to say about those who make riches their priority:
Proverbs 11:4 Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, But righteousness delivers from death.
Proverbs 11:28 He who trusts in his riches will fall, But the righteous will flourish like foliage.
His father David said:
Psalm 49:6 Those who trust in their wealth And boast in the multitude of their riches, 7 None of them can by any means redeem his brother, Nor give to God a ransom for him -- 8 For the redemption of their souls is costly, And it shall cease forever --
Being rich in this world can give power and fame, but it is only temporary. No amount of money can redeem you from your sins. Only Jesus’ blood can do that. So, worldly riches are not worth losing our soul or making our eternal how with the devil and his angels (Mt. 25:41).
As Jesus said:
Matthew 16:26 "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
While our priority is not the pursuit of riches, we are also taught not to be lazy:
Proverbs 13:4 The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.
2 Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.
When we do work, we are to give our best to glorify our Father in heaven:
1 Corinthians 10:31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
Matthew 5:16 "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Many times when we work as if we are working for
the Lord (Col. 3:23-24), we will be rewarded for our labor. There is nothing
wrong with acquiring wealth. Again, it is our attitude toward our wealth that
counts. When we find ourselves blessed, we can make a difference in people’s
lives and help the
Proverbs 19:17 He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, And He will pay back what he has given.
It is a wonderful feeling to be able to help someone that is need, but Solomon tells us that when we do this is just like we are helping out the Lord. Jesus taught this same idea in:
Matthew 25:34 "Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 'for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 'I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.' 37 "Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 'When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 'Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' 40 "And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'
Helping the needy takes on a whole new meaning when we consider what Solomon and Jesus is telling us. None of us would hesitate to help Jesus out, so none of us should hesitate to help those in need. When use our money to glorify God, it is only natural that it will also grow His kingdom. The first Christians understood this principle well, and they were not afraid of sharing their wealth to help spread the good news of Jesus:
Acts 4:32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. 33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. 34 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, 35 and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.
These Christians were not commanded to sell their land or to share what they had; they did it by their own free will. They saw a need and they took care of it. We even read of an congregation that gave out of their poverty in:
2 Corinthians 8:1 Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: 2 that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. 3 For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, 4 imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. 5 And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.
Much good can be done for God’s kingdom with the wealth we have, but we also learn that it we should also pass our wealth on to our children:
Proverbs 13:22 A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, But the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.
Solomon has much more to say about money such as: lending it, using it for good, not accepting bribes, and how the love of it can lead to your destruction. However, the main thought we should take from Solomon’s wisdom is to have the right attitude about our money and never make it our priority because it can and will separate us from God. As James said:
James 5:1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! 2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. 4 Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. 5 You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you.
Let us never suffer this fate. Instead, let us always make God our priority so that we can have the true treasure that is laid up for us in heaven.