Money. Prosperity. Wealth. Career. Lifestyle. Comfort. Luxury. Recreation. Status.
For most, no other issue consumes such a great portion of our time, thought, emotion, energy and life. It is one of the primary sources of stress, broken marriages, depression and frustration. Debt is suffocating most people and yet we still don’t have enough. We live in a world consumed with wealth and lifestyle. Truth be known, most Christian have no more peace and contentment about money and material possessions than the rest of the world.
Throughout this series of lessons I will use several terms interchangeably: “wealth”, “riches”, “lifestyle”, “money” and “things”. Either term will refer to our material possessions and in general all the earthly riches that we have or pursue.
As we start the study, it good to understand “things” as God originally intended, then know what went wrong. God originally created man to enjoy direct fellowship with Him. There was a place in man’s heart, the “throne” of his life, that only God was worthy to occupy. God enjoyed sole occupation of man’s uncorrupted heart and “things” were kept in their proper perspective and place.
Everything external of man (“things”) was created for man’s use, man’s enjoyment… as a blessing from God to His children. “Things” were subservient to man and always external to his heart. Only God was allowed the adoration, love and desire that flowed from an innocent heart. Man had one thing inside: God – and countless things external, all under his dominion and there for his enjoyment… compliments of the Creator of the Universe. And then we decided to mess it up.
“Things” war to take God’s rightful position in our life.
When sin entered God’s creation, the natural order was thrown out of balance. Now all of sudden “things” entered into man’s heart and to this day fight fiercely to keep God off the throne of every life. “Things” replace God. Money is such a big issue because it is the primary vehicle by which “things” are acquired.
Money and “things” dominate our lives in all but the poorest of societies – just in varying degrees. The desire for them, the pursuit of them; the maintenance, organization, protection and securing of them. In more affluent societies, we have a mentality that our lifestyles should be always increasing towards more comfort, more leisure and more luxury. One of the most common advertising phrases now is: “you deserve“… a nice house, a new car, the latest clothes, the softest bed and a longer vacation. You deserve it! Why? Well, that’s never explained. But is suffices just to inform people they “deserve” prosperity because it appeals to the lowest common denominator of sinful hearts.
Let me preface our study with this clarification: this is not a “money bashing” series. Money and material possessions are not the issue. Our hearts are the issue. Our attitudes, motives and perspectives on “things” is the issue.
God decides who to bless materially for His own purposes. It is not our place to pronounce that wealth is wrong. It is always our place to learn what God has to say about wealth and change our lives accordingly.
Things aren’t the problem, sinful hearts are.
Rich or poor, it makes no difference. The sinful heart of man can turn any circumstance in life into an opportunity to be sinful. These lessons will primarily address the issues of prosperity. It will be left to other lessons to deal with Scripture concerning poverty.
On the other hand, these lessons should not be mistaken to support the current popular “prosperity” teaching in the Church either. The teaching that “wealth equals faith”, and that prosperity is equivalent to spiritual blessing is no more Biblical than someone who states “all rich people are unsaved”. Contrary to some popular teaching, the New Testament does not promise material prosperity as a sign of faith or a blessing for obedience. Even the semi-serious Bible student will discover that material prosperity was the inferior blessing promised to Old Testament saints. New Testament saints are promised the SUPERIOR blessing of sacrifice, suffering and persecution. But that is another lesson altogether.
The rich or poor can be prideful, unsaved sinners. The rich or poor can be Godly, faithful Christians. God determines who prospers and who doesn’t according to His plans. It is not for man to decide that all Christians should be either rich, or poor. Income has no innate bearing on holiness. Holiness is a condition of the heart and no amount of wealth, or the lack of it, determines holiness. There are dangers that come with being rich. There are dangers in being poor.
It is for man to learn ALL of God’s Word and
apply it to life irrespective of income.
Are you rich (which is having more than you need for today according to the Bible)? Learn what God says about being rich and change accordingly. Are you poor? Learn what God has to say about poverty and change accordingly. God doesn’t say to strive to be either, but rather be content with whichever you happen to be.
Okay, now that all the fine print, prefacing and explanations are out of the way, we can begin. Over the next few days, we will study three aspects about money and “things” each day; one good, one bad, one ugly.
Holy God, help us to see “things” as external only allow only You to indwell us internally. Whether rich or poor, we ask for your wisdom on how to be Godly and content. In Jesus Name, amen.
Contemplation: We will learn that in Ecclesiastes we find the man who is so caught up in pursuing a lifestyle, he never even stops and asks “why?” Have you asked “why?” when it comes to your work, your income and your lifestyle? Have “things” fought to replace God’s rightful place on the throne of your life? How much of your time, emotion and effort is related to money and lifestyle?
Application: Christians are not immune to the suffocating effects of “lifestyle” and prosperity. With the ever increasing popularity of “prosperity” teaching, more and more Christians find themselves not only consumed with the issue, but add to it a level of spiritual frustration that makes things even worse. Money is blessing to be enjoyed, a gift from God. But when it replaces God, in part or whole, the problems begin. Do you know God’s true perspective on “things”?
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?