Bible Studies
Written by Jim Jordal   
Monday, 25 October 2004

In the values of this world, riches consist of money, investments, property, and "things."  But these trappings of ostentation fail to impress God, who says that the real riches lie in knowing His Son, Jesus Christ and in being "rich toward God."  The riches of the world deceive us into pride and arrogance, while the true riches of God lead to righteousness, faith, and eternal life.

by Jim Jordal

Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.
                                                                                        Jesus’ Parable of the Sower, Matt. 13:22 (NKJV)

Then He [Jesus] spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”  But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

Parable of the Rich Fool, Luke 12:16-21 (NKJV)

      In His Parable of the Sower (Matt. 13:3-9, 18-23) Jesus describes how the seed, or word of God, is choked into unfruitfulness by the “cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches.” Notice that Jesus speaks, not of unregenerate sinners, but of persons who have heard the word of God, obviously with some degree of acceptance, but who later become unfruitful in their walk with the Lord because of concerns with this world and the allure of worldly things, chiefly money and possessions.
      It’s interesting that Jesus speaks of riches as being “deceitful.” In other words, Jesus is saying that riches not yielded to God’s control have great ability to delude and deceive us from our true mission as children of God. Anything standing between ourselves and God is sinful. Great wealth seems to have great ability to lure us into lust and idolatry, hence the “deceitfulness” of riches.
      There is nothing inherently wrong with riches, provided they are not gained through oppression or injustice, do not draw us away from God, and are used for the furtherance of His kingdom. Many patriarchs of Scripture were wealthy, attributing their success to God’s blessing. But it’s when wealth is used for other purposes that it becomes deceitful and damaging.
      One way in which riches deceive us is in leading us to believe we are more important than we are. Arrogance too often accompanies wealth. In the eyes of God, riches mean less than nothing; but by human values, riches often secure status, influence, power and position. Proverbs puts it this way: "The rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and like a high wall in his own esteem” (Prov. 18:11)
      Another deception of riches is that they lead us toward idolatrous dependence upon our own resources rather than upon God’s grace. I’m reminded of Christ’s Parable of the Rich Fool (quoted above), forcefully warning us that depending upon accumulated wealth to provide us with happiness and meaning is at best delusion, and at worst idolatry. As Jesus said, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Mark 8:36-37).
      A further deception of riches is that we act in ways contrary to God’s will in our efforts to conserve or increase our wealth. Scripture contains literally hundreds of prohibitions against gaining wealth through oppression or injustice, and against using wealth to harm others, especially the poor and helpless. When you read this think Enron, World Com, Tyco and so on. Certain leaders of these organizations in their greed for wealth used their power to bankrupt their companies, in the process destroying life savings of hordes of innocent people.
      The apostle Paul described the problem to young evangelist Timothy in this manner: “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 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 a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (I Tim. 6:6-10).
      Doesn’t this Scripture apply to many captains of industry and financial leaders you’ve been hearing about over the past few years? They’ve ruined themselves, giant corporations, reputations, futures, associates, and innocent bystanders -- all in their greed for money and power.
      So its not amiss to speak of the deceitfulness of riches, since evidence of the truth of what Jesus said exists on every hand. It remains for us as Christians to separate ourselves from excessive love of this fallen world, and to apply at every opportunity the word of God to our own financial affairs. Amen.
      Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1978, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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