“But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” – 1 Timothy 6:10-12
Jesus is rich. Jesus is the Son of God, and God is the Ultimate Owner of Everything. That means Jesus owns everything, and owning absolutely everything meets every possible requirement for being rich. But when He came to earth as a man, Jesus came as a poor human being who was born in a place where animals were kept. He gave up His claim as The Owner of Everything to become a lowly servant, so that he could teach us the truth. Jesus did not preach about being prosperous, or making more money. Instead, He warned us, again and again, about the dangers of allowing the heart to become focused mainly on the accumulation of wealth and earthly treasures.
A prime example of a rich man losing his way is Howard Hughes. At age 45, Hughes was one of the most glamorous men in America. He dated actresses, piloted exotic test aircraft, and worked on top-secret CIA contracts. He owned a string of hotels around the world, and even an airline. By age 65, Howard Hughes was worth 2.3 billion dollars. But you would never know it. He lived in small dark rooms atop his hotels, without sun and without joy. His once powerful 6’4” frame had shrunk to about 100 pounds. Life held no meaning for him. Finally, wasting away and hooked on drugs, he died at age 67 for lack of a medical device his own company had helped to develop.
The lesson of Howard Hughes is that even though Hughes had it all, he did not enjoy what he had been richly given. This is what happens when God is left out of the equation. All that this world has to offer can be incredibly empty and unsatisfying apart from God.
George Bernard Shaw once said that “there are two tragedies in life: one is not to get your heart’s desire. The other is to get it.” Consider the following statement: wealth is a greater test of character than poverty. A Romanian church leader who spent time in the West made this observation: “95 percent of believers who face the test of persecution pass it; 95 percent who face the test of prosperity fail it.
While that statement seems counter intuitive, I believe it is probably accurate, even if the actual numbers vary somewhat. Money does not ensure the great life most people believe it does. Because no matter how rich you are a life spent apart from God is a poor life.
Is it God’s desire that we have no money? Should we aspire to live in poverty in order to live a life that is pleasing to God? Is ambition a sin? No, no, and no, I’m not saying it is a sin to be rich, or even to desire to be rich. I’m saying it’s necessary to be honest with yourself, to search your heart for your motives, to make sure that what you desire is a way to better follow, serve and glorify God with all He has blessed you with.
1. Life is often about or comforts. Are you comfortable? Do you feel safe being dependent on God?
2. Don’t be afraid to take risks for the Lord. Ask God to make you a little uncomfortable and more dependent on Him. Ask Him for guidance on how to tithe. Pray. Read His Word. Be generous to others. Share your faith.
3. What is one thing you can do this week to begin to put your hope in God instead of your money?