Mark 8:36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
This week I met a man who has been blessed with every material need; he lacks for nothing this world can offer. And at 85 he has more than enough money to see out his remaining days. Yet, he is not satisfied. He has a relentlessly acquisitive ego whose eternal cry is “More!” And despite the fact that his wealth may keep him financially secure, in many other ways he is bankrupt. He is starved of the deepest needs – joy, peace, contentment, rest quietness of spirit and salvation of his soul.
Money can buy education, but not wisdom; possessions but not peace; adventure but not inner stillness; fun but not friendship; sex but not love; laughter but not joy; a global positioning system, but not direction; glamour, but not godliness; retirement, but not rest; resources, but not responsibility; prestige and power, but not humility; comforts, but not character; feasting and revelry, but not simplicity and quietness; stocks, but not lasting security; immediate cravings, but not eternal riches; insurance, but not God’s protection; gifts, but not a generous heart; instant gratification, but not hard work and patience. Money can buy whatever we want, but not what we need.
Matthew 6:19-20 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.
Jesus’ message is clear. Followers of the Messiah are to seek Him and His kingdom first, storing up (I like to think of this as piling up high) the good works, behaviors, speech and indeed lifestyle that will build treasure in Heaven. When we get a hold of the truth that all the treasures that money buys us in this life will fade and corrode into dust, we cannot help but turn our attention to the things that will last for eternity.
Let’s remember that we brought no luggage when we entered the world and will take none when we exit it. Discontentment and a restless for more, arises when we are seduced by the world into believing the lie that we need more than we have. The conversation I had with the man was a stark reminder that a person’s life does not consist in the abundance of their possessions. God, not money, richly provides us with all good things to enjoy. Money has never made anyone rich in spirit.
1 Timothy 6:17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.
The pitfalls of wanting more money are numerous enough. Money breeds anxiety. When we have it, we fear we will lose it. Many people who want to get rich fall into temptation. They go where they shouldn’t and join with those they ought not. They are tempted to look in directions that bring about their downfall and become trapped or imprisoned in a passion for more wealth. Getting what we want (riches) often gives us what we don’t want (sin). And there is no sin that the love of money will keep us from.
Proverbs 30: 8-9 Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me. Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? Or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.
How can we recognize if we are a lover of money? Thoughts of money will consume our day: how much we have, how to keep it, and how to attain more. We will be tempted to define success in terms of what we have, rather than who we are in Christ. We will neglect our family in the pursuit of money, or we will close our eyes to the genuine needs of others. We live in the fear of losing our money and borrow ourselves into bondage in order to acquire more. And finally, we will know if we are a lover of money when God receives our leftovers, rather than our first fruits.
Malachi 3:10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
Let’s beware we don’t love gold more than God, for the love of money will lead us astray. Only God truly satisfies. Money is a useful tool that is to be used wisely and cautiously, especially when we become aware of the dangerous spirit that lies behind it, wanting to lure us into its grasp. Whether we have much, or little, let’s be content with what He has graciously given, for the good gifts, that money can’t buy are found in Christ alone.