The desire to have more wealth, more comfort and more “security” rages in the heart of every person. Some have more victory over it than others, but the battle will never cease until this life is over.
The very “things” that God gave us as gifts,
now threaten to become more important to us than the Giver.
It becomes an even tougher battle when “holiness” and “faithfulness” become measured by wealth and prosperity. It’s like being taught that your value as a soldier will be judged by how much you help the enemy in their cause against you. It’s insanity and a dreadful plague on the Church. Faith measured by bank accounts. How devilish.
The richest & wisest man who ever lived hated life because his wealth was powerless to bring happiness
Ecclesiastes 2:17-26 Therefore I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me, for all is vanity and grasping for the wind. Then I hated all my labor in which I had toiled under the sun, because I must leave it to the man who will come after me. And who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will rule over all my labor in which I toiled and in which I have shown myself wise under the sun. This also is vanity. Therefore I turned my heart and despaired of all the labor in which I had toiled under the sun. For there is a man whose labor is with wisdom, knowledge, and skill; yet he must leave his heritage to a man who has not labored for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. For what has man for all his labor, and for the striving of his heart with which he has toiled under the sun? For all his days are sorrowful, and his work burdensome; even in the night his heart takes no rest. This also is vanity. (NKJV, emphasis mine)
King Solomon gives 3 reasons for “hating his wealth”:
- Earthly speaking, you can’t keep it; so either spend it, send it or lose it.
- Money is a tool; unless you put the tool to work (spending) it does nothing for you.
- So the real question is HOW you spend it or send it: on eternal things, or temporal things?
- Money won’t keep you warm, but it will buy a heater; you can’t eat money, but you can buy food; money won’t save anyone, but it will help spread the message of salvation
- Solomon hated the fact that someone else would end up with his wealth who had not earned it.
- No one appreciates what they didn’t work for as much as the person who did.
- He knew from his wisdom and experience that everything he had built and earned would probably be wasted by someone who took it for granted.
- The inheritance he would leave would be squandered (which indeed Rehoboam did!)
- That is why it is good parenting not to “give” everything to our children;
- Let them learn to work for things; earn them; then they will appreciate it more (example: cars, money, college educations, recreation, etc.)
Money is a blessing you can use in three ways:
Lose it, spend it, or send it
Store up for yourself treasures on earth where moth, rust and thieves will get it. Spend it on temporal things that will give you a very short moment of satisfaction in this life; OR, send it on ahead to heaven where it will reap exponential returns for all eternity!.
Prosperity can cause our material possessions to become “statements” instead of tools or simply blessings.
1 Thessalonians 4:11 …that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you… (NKJV)
As prosperity increases, our possessions become statements of our so-called success. No longer are they simple functional tools that provide transportation, shelter and clothing. Now our possessions must make a statement about our style, our success and our income level. We get respect, attention and admiration because of our “things”, not because of our sacrificial life for Christ.
It’ no longer a blessing simply to have “things”… we must now have
nice things, new things and stylish things that tell people how successful we are.
Prosperity moves us from functionality and adequacy to image and status.
- A car that gets us reliably from Point A to Point B isn’t good enough anymore.
- Cars are now statements of who we are, how much money we make and how “cool” we are
- Our cars are so nice it gives us an ulcer to actually let someone use them
- Houses that shelter us and allow us to show Christian hospitality are now longer adequate
- Now they have to be big, new, stylishly decorated homes in the “right” neighborhood with manicured and landscaped lawns
- Clothes that keep us warm, modest and comfortable aren’t good enough unless they are also fashionable and give the right image
- Think about it… what makes clothing “out of style”? Who says? What’s the criteria? What is “style” anyway? Who say which “style” looks good? The companies who stand to profit from clothing, that’s who!
- Every year your clothing is no longer any good because the companies who sell clothes say they aren’t! And guess what? They just happen to have some new ones that ARE in “style”. Imagine that. MADNESS!
- And we’re ALL suckered into this scam to the degree that we can afford it!
How are heart deceives us into thinking “that’s not me!”. How embarrassed would you be to drive a “junky” (but reliable) car; wear inexpensive, clearance-rack, out-of-date (but adequate) clothing; live in a “dumpy” (but safe) neighborhood and use a $10 garage-sale set of golf clubs (with which you get the same score as your new $2000.00 set of clubs)?
If you can truly say to God that it wouldn’t bother you, good for you. If you can’t, like most of us, then “image” is important to you to some degree. Only you and God know how much.
God prospers us not to raise our standard of living, but to raise our standard of good works and giving
1 Timothy 6:17-19 – Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. (NKJV)
Don’t get prideful and arrogant about what God has given you, the key word being “given”. What do you have that God didn’t give to you? If you think there is ANY thing, then you are very mistaken. You didn’t create you. You didn’t give you health, strength, talent and opportunity. You didn’t protect you or bless your efforts. God does, not you.
You will give an account for what you did with your material blessings and it will effect you for all eternity. If you are rich, then God expects you to be rich in good works. And remember the Biblical definition of rich: having more than you need for one day. We will have no excuse for not having laid up much treasure in heaven!
Most Holy God, help us to win the battle against the army of “things” that wants to drive You from our hearts. Help us to not be deceived about these matters. In Jesus Name, amen.
Contemplation: How bothered would you be if you were immediately reduced to an adequate, but basics-only, functionality-first lifestyle? Could you be happy in your first hours, your first car, your old clothes and without all the “stuff” you have now? As your level on material possessions have risen, has your Godliness risen with it, or just your standard of living?
Application: Lose it, spend it or send it. Three choices. The first hurts you; the second is short-term at best; and the third is the only real investment that lasts. What is your usual choice?.
- 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?