With many people, if they finish the month with $100 in the bank, things are looking up. On the other hand, if the balance dropped below $100,000, other people would consider themselves broke. I belong to the former group. If you want full disclosure, my checkbook balance as I type this is $47.65.
It is not a sin to be wealthy. Many prominent Bible characters were rich in material goods. Job, for example, when speaking of material wealth, the Bible says, “this man was the greatest of all the men of the east” (Job 1:3).
Material wealth also fluctuates with several Bible characters. The beforementioned Job lost all of his wealth in minutes (Job 1:13-22). But by the end of Job’s story, he regains twice what he started with (Job 42:10). Joseph is another example. He comes from a well-to-do family, goes into slavery, then prison, and eventually becomes second in command in Egypt. In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul tells us he bounces from one end of the financial spectrum to the other (Philippians 4:12).
Neither is it a sin to be poor. When Joseph and Mary made the required sacrifice eight days after Jesus was born, they made the sacrifice allowed by Scripture for the poor (Leviticus 12:8; Luke 2:21-24).
Some believe that the Bible says money is the root of all evil, but that is inaccurate. 1 Timothy 6:10, “For 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.”
The definition of love is found in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave…” When we love something, we give ourselves to it. We devote time and energy.
The love of money can apply to rich and poor alike. A rich man may devote his life to making another million. A poor man’s love for his family can cause him to seek extra income, but if the poor man’s motivation is to have more, the love of money may be the underlying cause.
How can we differentiate between the love of money, a good work ethic, or love for family?
Jesus tells the story of a fellow in Luke 12:16-21 that supplies an answer. “And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
When we look at what this man has done, it is what most of us want to do. He was successful in his endeavors. He expanded, built wealth, and eventually reached a point where he had enough saved up to retire comfortably. Yet, God called him, “Thou fool.”
The Bible says twice, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God” (Psalm 14:1, 53:1).
When reading the above story, note that no mention is made of the man thanking God that his fields yielded so abundantly. He decided to build larger barns without seeking God’s guidance. Neither is God part of his retirement plans. The man may not have been an atheist, but he lived as if there was no God. God is never in his thought process. This absence of God in his thought process made the man, in God’s words, a fool.
There is far more in life than going to work, making money, and having enough to kick back and relax in your final years. There is God, family, our soul, and the souls of others. Mark 8:36, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
If you believe riches bring happiness, think of all the rich and famous you have heard of that has been charged with impaired driving or sexual assault. Think of how many you have read about that committed suicide. They had all the money a person would ever need ten times over, yet they were looking for something more.
Immediately before the rich man’s story above, Jesus said, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15).
I will end this with a few verses about what our heart attitude should be regarding stuff.
Psalm 23:1, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.”
1 Timothy 6:6, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”
Ecclesiastes 12:13, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”
Preacher Johnson is pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County, Indiana. Website: www.preachers-point.com; Email: [email protected]; Mail: 25 W 1200 N; Kingman IN 47952. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Timothy-Preacher-Johnson-101171088326638. All Scripture KJV.