Be Wary of Wealth.
“Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich. Be wise enough to know when to quit. In the blink of an eye wealth disappears, for it will sprout wings and fly away like an eagle.” – Proverbs 23:4-5 NLT
It was the apostle Paul who warned his protege Timothy, “Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 10:6-10 NLT). There are probably no other words of biblical advice and counsel that have been overlooked and ignored quite as much as these. Especially in modern American culture. We are a country that prides itself on its affluence and its ability to produce wealth. It’s the American way, the American dream. Money and material things are how we judge our worth and measure our success. And as a result, we live in the land of discontentment. We are constantly bombarded with advertisements and marketing campaigns that tell us what we have is not enough. We need more. We need bigger and better. We need new. We need what everyone else has. We need what we can’t afford. So we work harder and harder to buy things we don’t really need. Or we go into debt to get our hands on things that we think will make us happier. Only to find that our dream turns into a nightmare of monthly payments that last far longer than whatever it was we purchased.
But Solomon and Paul both warn us against wearing ourselves out on getting rich. Solomon reminds us of the proven fact that wealth can disappear in a heartbeat. We can lose it all in no time and find ourselves back to where we were. Riches are unreliable. Wealth if a fair weather friend. Paul goes even further. He gives us the bad news that we can’t take our riches with us when we die. It stays here when we go. So even if we manage to keep our hands on it in this life, it won’t be going with us into the next one. So Paul encourages us to learn contentment. He advises us to be satisfied with what we have, even if what we have is less than what the world tells us we deserve. Discontentment has a voracious appetite. It is like a monster living inside us that you can’t feed enough to ever satisfy. It constantly desires more and more. We can find ourselves becoming discontent with something new we bought within minutes of purchasing it. We are constantly suffering buyer’s remorse, not so much because we shouldn’t have bought what we did, but because we found something else we wanted even more. Listen to Paul’s warning again: “But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:9-10 NLT). Longing to be rich, dreaming of more, desiring greater wealth – can leave us trapped by our own foolish and harmful desires. We become driven by what we want. We can become obsessed by our desire for more. Our love of money can tempt us to do all kinds of things that are ungodly, unrighteous, and unhealthy for our spiritual well-being.
When all is said and done, Solomon would encourage us to pursue wisdom, understanding, godliness and the character of God Himself. Riches are little more than a poor substitute for what God wants to offer us. They tease us with promises of fulfillment, satisfaction, security, and yes, even contentment. But no amount of money will ever deliver what only God can provide. Which is exactly why Paul tells Timothy, “But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness” (1 Timothy 10:11 NLT). Now that’s advice you can take to the bank and count on.
Father, riches are so subtle. They are so alluring and tempting. But contentment needs to be my goal. I want to learn to live with what I have and be satisfied with You. I can so easily find myself believing the lie that more is better. That money can meet my needs. That wealth can satisfy and solve all my problems. But only You can do those things. Money can be such a distraction. All the stuff I own can end up owning me. Open my eyes to the reality of the situation and help me be wary of wealth. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men