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The Deception of Wealth

In the award winning movie “Fiddler on the Roof”, Tevye talks to God:

“Dear God, you made many, many poor people.

I realize, of course, that it’s no shame to be poor.

But it’s no great honor either!

So, what would have been so terrible if I had a small fortune?”

Tevye then sings about what he would do if he were a rich man and reiterates what we’ve been taught. “And it won’t make one bit of difference if I answer right or wrong. When you’re rich, they think you really know!”

In the parable of the sower, while explaining about the seed that fell among the thorns, Jesus spoke of the deceitfulness of wealth as one of the reasons that chokes the Word of God, making it unfruitful.

What are some areas of deceitfulness of wealth for Christians?

Being rich means being wise –In the parable of the rich fool (the term is a paradox), we find an industrious person who worked hard to reach where he was. He was a wise, smart, slick operator who knew how to multiply his wealth. Yet, God calls him a fool because he was not rich towards God.

The rich can never be fools.Warren Wiersbe writes ‘The word, fool in Psalms or Proverbs refers to a person who is morally perverse. Why is he a fool? Because he has said in his heart “There is no God” (Ps. 14:1). Most of the people today live as agnostics. God is not in their thoughts and consequently, He is not in their lives. The fool not only says that there is no God; he also says no to God.’

Earthly riches are true riches – We live in a world which teaches that wealth (net worth) is self-worth. The people of this world have no dilemma regarding wealth. They worship at its altar. In Luke 16:11 Jesus asks “If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?” The context of this question is the Parable of the Dishonest Manager who was wasting his master’s possessions. God has given us worldly wealth so that when we are faithful (rather than wasteful), will entrust us with true riches.

In Mark 10, when the rich young ruler encountered Jesus, he was eager to inherit eternal life until he was told “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” It seems that the rich young ruler missed the part where it is written“. . . and you will have treasure in heaven”. We are also in danger of missing this portion of Scripture if we are focused on earthly riches.
“The real measure of your wealth is how much you’d be worth if you lost all your money.” – Anon.

Did God really say? – One of the negative commands in the Bible about attitude to riches is in Psalm 49:16 & 17 “Do not be overawed when a man grows rich, when the splendor of his house increases; for he will take nothing with him when he dies, his splendor will not descend with him.” The people of the world are overawed when they look at rich people. What about Christians?

Not very long ago I received a printed Bible verse as a hand-out. The verse was mentioned as “I will never leave you, nor forsake you” Hebrews 13:5. Yet when I opened the Bible, it is written “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.”

We live in an age of “comforting” verses that try to assure us of God’s provisions without any requirement for responsible behavior from us which conveniently carves out what God has clearly said and to justify our fleshly appetites. Such misinterpretations choke the Word of God, making it unfruitful.

Money is not the problem, only love of money is the problem – In group Bible studies, discussions about money can be a sore topic. There are those who quote 1 Tim 6:10 – that it is not money but the love of money that is the root of all evil. Yet, someone said that money has the inherent power to make itself be loved. This kind of subtle love slips into our lives and it is possible for us to put our hope in wealth which is uncertain instead of setting our hope on God who richly provides us
(1 Tim. 6:17)

God rewards hard work –the Bible teaches us against laziness. In 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12, Paul writes against idleness and exhorts the readers to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. Yet in Proverbs 23:4 , 5 it is written ”Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.” A Christian is expected to carry many biblical truths together and exercise discernment trained by constant practice (Heb.5:14).

Wealth represents our education, skills, talents, time, relationships and inheritance. It has no moral attributes, the attributes come from the character of the one who handles it. Wealth by itself is not spectacular. What it can do for us is what’s really important. Wealth gives us freedom and choices. Exercising freedom and choices on the basis of availability of wealth rather than on the basis of Lordship of Christ (in the areas of earning, spending, saving and giving) is what makes money a god.

The central essence of biblical stewardship is managing everything God brings into the believers’ life in a manner that honours God and impacts eternity.” . . . Wikipedia – Stewardship (theology)

“Remember this – you can’t serve God and money, but you can serve God with money.” Selwyn Hughes.

Let us not be trapped by the luring deception of wealth, but exhort each other “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”Gal. 6:7-9

Alex Isac
The author is a graduate member of the Staff Development Department of UESI

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