I must come to a basic understanding about wealth. Jesus is challenging me. So is the Apostle Paul.
Riches are VERY uncertain. There are days I just don’t get that. I act as if they are important even as I say they aren’t. I must radically change my mind and how I act (aka repent).
Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed. | 1 Timothy 6:17–19
Paul had already written about the danger of the love of money, but he added a special “charge” for Timothy to give to the rich. I may not think that this charge applies to me, but it does. My standard of living today would certainly make me “rich” in the eyes of Timothy’s congregation! I have been warned.
Be humble: If wealth makes a person proud, then he understands neither himself nor his wealth. “But you shall remember the Master your God; for it is He that gives you power to get wealth” (Deut. 8:18). We are not owners; we are stewards. If we have wealth, it is by the goodness of God and not because of any special merits on our part. The possessing of material wealth ought to humble a person and cause him to glorify God, not himself.
It is possible to be “rich in the world” and be poor in the next. It is also possible to be poor in this world and rich in the next. Jesus talked about both. But a believer can be rich in this world and rich in the next if he uses what he has to honor. In fact, a person who is poor in this world can use even his limited means to glorify God and discover great reward in the next world.
Trust God, not wealth. The rich farmer in our Master’s parable (Luke 12:13–21) thought that his wealth meant security, when really it was an evidence of insecurity. He was not really trusting God. Riches are uncertain, not only in their value (which changes constantly), but also in their durability. Thieves can steal wealth, investments can drop in value, and the ravages of time can ruin houses and cars. If God gives us wealth, we should trust Him, the Giver, and not the gifts.
Enjoy what God gives you. Yes, the word enjoy is in the Bible! In fact, one of the recurring themes in Ecclesiastes is, “Enjoy the blessings of life now, because life will end one day” (Ecc. 2:24; 3:12–15, 22; 5:18–20; 9:7–10; 11:9–10). This is not sinful “hedonism,” living for the pleasures of life. It is simply enjoying all that God gives us for His glory.
I have to be careful. Materialistic seduction can happen. I live in America and that is clear.
If materialism was ever to satisfy anyone, it would have been Solomon, the richest king the world has ever known. He had absolutely everything and had more of it than anyone, and yet he found it was all worthless and futile.
It did not produce happiness or the satisfaction our souls long for. He declared, “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income” (Ecclesiastes 5:10).
In the end, Solomon came to the conclusion that we are to “fear God, and keep His commandments. For this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
Materialism — Possessions and riches can make it difficult to enter the kingdom
The pursuit of possessions and wealth and a preoccupation with physical things is futile and dissatisfying. Materialism is defined as “the preoccupation with material things rather than intellectual or spiritual things.” If a disciple is preoccupied with material things, it is definitely wrong. That is not to say I cannot have material things, but the obsession with acquiring and caring for “stuff” is a dangerous thing for me as a slave of Jesus.