A Life Consumed With Riches
America is a rich nation. When you compare us to the rest of the world, we are doing pretty well. The average person is living comfortably. We haven't always been this way. I believe our country has gotten to this point because of the convictions and beliefs of our founding fathers. Most had a strong belief in Christ and centered their convictions on the Word of God. The Bible teaches us to work hard and to persevere, and we can think of stories after stories of people throughout our nation's history who had strong faith, worked diligently, and persevered through trials. Believing in Christ doesn't always equate to financial success, but sometimes it does.
You see, when you begin to follow Jesus and obey His teachings, you begin to get smarter with your money. You give more generously, you save and invest more, and you take care of the things you've been given. Not all Christians make more money as many choose career fields where you don't make a lot; however, because Christians follow the principles that Scripture teaches, many Christians experience financial success.
Whenever we have money, there comes the temptation to trust it.
I'm concerned about where our nation is heading. I believe we are heading down a path we don't want to go down spiritually, morally, economically, and socially. One of the main reasons we are heading down this path is because we have settled in our comfort and have put our hope in our possessions and bank accounts. We are living in times of materialism.
Cotton Mather, a Puritan, once said: "Religion begat prosperity, and the daughter devoured the mother."
As mentioned above, many Christians have experienced financial freedom due to good decisions based on their convictions. Their beliefs gave birth to their prosperity. Unfortunately, when prosperity comes, it can easily become what they put their faith in.
Paul tells Timothy and us in 1 Timothy 6:17-19:
"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life."
I believe Paul is comparing a life consumed by the riches of wealth to a life consumed by the riches of Christ. Here are 4 things he says about being consumed by riches:
1) A life consumed by the riches of wealth results in an arrogant life.
Paul tells Timothy to command those who are rich not to be arrogant. The Greek word for arrogant, hupselophroneo, means to cherish high thoughts of yourself, to be high minded.
It’s easy when you have money to think you are superior than others. It deludes your thinking where you start saying to yourself, “I have more than other people therefore I am superior.” You struggle with connecting with people who struggle financially, and you can begin to think that it’s all because of your hard work and your own abilities that you have all this money.
#2) A life consumed by the riches of wealth results in an uncertain hope.
The New Living Translation says, "Tell those who are rich in this world not to trust their money which will soon be gone (1 Timothy 6:17)."
When we put our hope in money, what happens when we lose it? I'll tell you what happens, we get physically sick.
Some of you reading this have recently lost a job, or have had your salaries cut in half. You know exactly what this verse is talking about. This can be extremely discouraging.
The problem is we tend to put so much stock in our nice homes and nice cars that when this tragedy happens, the thought of even selling our homes and downsizing is appalling. So, we end up getting in more debt and it weighs even heavier on us. The temptation to get further and further in debt becomes greater. Your marriage is affected, and your anxiety will cause headaches, heartaches, backaches, and bellyaches.
Someone once said, “When your outgo exceeds your income, your upkeep will be your downfall.”
The thing you might need to do is to downsize, sell your car(s), and cut cable. You may be working two jobs to get back to where you were. These kinds of things can happen, and more than likely will happen at least once in your life. We need to be prepared for tough seasons like this and remember not to put our trust in the riches of wealth.
Paul then challenges us to have a different mindset about riches.
#3) A life consumed by the riches of Christ results in a secure hope.
2 Corinthians 8:9 says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.”
Jesus left the riches of Heaven to come to earth to die on our behalf. He became poor so that we could be rich with Him in heaven when we die, and we could experience true, abudant life while on this earth (John 10:10).
Money comes and goes, but Jesus is always with us (Isaiah 41:10; Matthew 28:20). If you trust in Him, He will satisfy your every longing. He will fulfill you where money can't. We are to put our hope in God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment (1 Timothy 6:17). God may not give us everything we want, but He will give us what we need. He gives us things so we can enjoy them.
When everything hits the fan, Christ is there. If we anchor our hope in Him, we will be strong during times of trials.
#4) A life consumed by the riches of Christ results in a generous life.
Extravagant giving is the antidote to materialism. Giving shows great humility compared to arrogance. It is better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).
If you believe in Jesus, you know that He has given you so much. He has forgiven your sins and has given you a gift of eternal life in Heaven (Ephesians 2:8-10; 1 John 1:9). This is the greatest, most generous gift anyone could ever receive. Because we've been given so much, we shouldn't help but want to give. All that we have is God's, and if you are consumed by Christ, you will overflow with thanksgiving and generosity (Colossians 2:7).
Has wealth darkend your soul? Ask the Lord to consume you with His riches.
For more on this, listen to my recent sermon titled, "A Word to the Wealthy."