1Timothy 6:9-11 states, “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. Through this craving, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs [griefs]. But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.”
The temptations, snares, and senseless and harmful desires the devil creates for those who want to get rich could be sensuality, worldliness, pride, greed, covetousness, stealing, selfishness, drug and alcohol use, adultery, and so on. Power and self-importance are the most prevalent snares of pursuing riches. Remember, Satan is an opportunist and will seek to bring destruction through the areas of your life that are not submitted to God.
The desire to be rich most often leads to the sin of greed. Greed is having an excessive desire for more money or possessions. Timothy Keller said in his book God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life that “The greedy find ways to justify dishonest financial dealings to themselves, and there is no better way than to say that it will benefit your family or your household.” Yet greed destroys relationships and families. I have seen this firsthand, especially if a family member gambles or is a workaholic, which are strongholds that can be broken down.
All Desires Begin as a Thought
The love of money is an unseen battle many people fight, even poor people, which begins as a thought within our control. Matthew 6:24 states, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Also, Ecclesiastes 5:10 states, “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.” And, Hebrews 13:3 states, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.'” If you realize you love money more than God, then take that thought captive and say a prayer of repentance and submission to Him.
Luke tells the story of a rich man who wanted to know how to inherit eternal life. He claimed he kept all the commands of God, but Jesus addressed what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Luke 18:18-24 states, “When Jesus heard this, he said to him, ‘One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’ But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” (Luke 18:22-24). This passage is difficult to read because our wealth and possessions distract us from loving God with all my heart and loving others.
How do you know if you love money more than God? You will need to ask God to search your heart because our hearts are deceitful (Jer. 17:9-10). We also think we are more righteous than we are. Jesus said to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:25, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.” Your answer to the following questions will reveal if you have a balanced attitude between wealth and contentment.
- How would you react if you lose all your wealth and possessions?
- If God said to give your wealth and possessions away, could you?
- Are you trusting in your wealth for security, or are you trusting in God to provide all you need? Proverbs 11:28 states, “Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.”
Is Being Wealthy Wrong?
Wealth is a gift from God (Deut. 8:17-18), and Ecclesiastes 5:19 states, “Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God.” Also, 1Timothy 6:17 states, “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” When we desire to please God, He will richly provide us with everything to enjoy, but if a person is not seeking God, they are tempted to sin. 2Chronicles 12:14 explains, “And he did evil, for he did not set his heart to seek the LORD.”
If God has blessed you financially, remain submitted to God since you are only a steward of what He has given to you. Paul tells us to pursue godliness along with righteousness, faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness (1Tim. 6:10). Pursue means to stay focused and strive to gain what you want. More about how to do this in my next post.
Before warning about the perils of desiring to be rich, Paul tells Timothy in 1Timothy 6:6-8, “But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” Read How Contentment with Godliness Increases Independence, Time, and Wealth for my explanation of these verses.
It comes down to greed versus gratitude and contentment. What controls your attitude and thoughts will influence your actions. Are you grateful for the wealth God has given you, or are you greedy for more? Are you content with pleasing and loving God, or do you want more for a greater sense of security and self-importance? You can balance wealth with contentment when you have submitted all you have to God and are grateful.
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