“Whoever trusts in his riches will fail, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf”
Proverbs 11:28, NIV
This is the first of a series of Seeds of the Kingdom about the three most dangerous temptations, money sex and power – temptations which remain a constant threat, even to believers, no matter how far they have run in their personal race of life. For Paul reminded believers (in 1 Corinthians 10:12), “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.”
Money is one of life’s essentials. Without it we cannot buy the necessities of life. With it everything we could ever want or dream of becomes possible. Whenever there is a great natural disaster our television screens are full of appeals – what for? For money. For with money the charitable agencies can buy the food, the clothing and the housing that suffering people need. Money has the potential to do a massive amount of good. And Scripture encourages us as believers to consider that everything we have belongs to God – and to be generous with our giving to those in need, on top of our giving to God for His Kingdom purposes – our tithes and offerings.
But because money can buy anything, wanting more can be a dangerous temptation. For money cannot only buy good things, it can also be used for purposes that will take our eyes off God and consume our soul. The desire for more can very quickly turn from meeting the essential needs of life into desiring things that God definitely didn’t intend. There is nothing that can so quickly grow a spiritual cataract over our eyes as greed for money. It can have the effect of blinding our eyes so that we cannot see the deceptive traps we are falling into.
And then, when we have acquired a lot of money, fear takes hold. For when you have started to put your trust in money, as the means of doing whatever you want, instead of trusting in God as your provided (Jehovah Jireh), you are trusting in what has become an idol in your heart – and idolatry is driven by fear rather than love. The fear of not having enough can mean that people become desperate to protect what they have. And the fear of losing it can turn the rich from being generous givers into the meanest of people, as portrayed by Chares Dickens in his amazing novel ‘A Christmas Carol’. The name of Dickens’ character, Ebenezer Scrooge, gave birth to a new word in the English language – a ‘scrooge’, meaning a mean, miserly and unhappy person.
Those who depend on their riches are very short-sighted people. For, as our Scripture for today tells us, those who “trust in riches will fail” and Proverbs 27:24 adds to this by saying, “riches do not endure forever.” And when the Scriptures talk about not lasting for ever, they are looking at the perspective of time and eternity, not just within the limitations of our time on earth. We may die rich people, but where is the treasure of our heart located? If it is in the wealth we are leaving behind, we have problems, as Jesus illustrated in the parable of the rich farmer in Matthew 12:13-21. The man wanted to build bigger barns in which he could store all his grain and all his goods, so that he could then “take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”
But God’s assessment of this man’s objectives was very different. The man had been blinded by his riches to eternal truths and in the story God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then, who will get what you have prepared for yourself? This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich towards God.”
Money can be a means of huge provision and blessing. But it can also be a self-destructive trap. I pray that as you think about these things you will take your eyes off what you have in time and focus on what you can take with you from time into eternity. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” Matthew 6:21. When we are living righteous lives and our heart’s focus is right we will, as our Scripture encourages us, thrive – without the need to be trusting in riches – for they will fail.
Prayer. Help me, Lord, to value Your provision and to trust You for all I need. Forgive me, Lord, for the times when I have taken my eyes off you and trusted in my possessions instead of You. Give me Your wisdom to have a right balance in my life, to be generous with what You have given me, and to keep my focus on You – the treasure of my heart. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.