It matters: We could translate this verse: “We brought nothing into this world because we can carry nothing out” (Job 1:21). When someone’s spirit leaves his body at death, it can take nothing with it because, when that person came into the world at birth, he brought nothing with him. Whatever wealth we amass goes to the government, our heirs, and perhaps charity and the church. We always know the answer to the question, “How much did he leave?” Everything!
The master plan: Our basic needs are easily met. Food and “covering” (clothing and shelter) are basic needs; if we lose them, we lose the ability to secure other things. A miser without food would starve to death counting his money. I am reminded of the simple-living Quaker who was watching his new neighbor move in, with all of the furnishings and expensive “toys” that “successful people” collect. The Quaker finally went over to his new neighbor and said, “Neighbor, if ever thou dost need anything, come to see me, and I will tell thee how to get along without it.” Henry David Thoreau, the naturalist of the 1800s, reminded us that a man is wealthy in proportion to the number of things he can afford to do without.
God’s goal for us: God wants us to live for Him and His glory. Eternity is a very long time and our time here is limited. God didn’t create us to “live the good life” and waste it all and things that don’t last.
What Jesus says: Jesus is clear: “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew 6:24) Here is everything Jesus had to say about wealth and money.
Consider this: The economic and energy crises that the world faces will probably be used by God to encourage people to simplify their lives. Too many of us know the “price of everything and the value of nothing.” We are so glutted with luxuries that we have forgotten how to enjoy our necessities.
The bottom line: The desire for wealth leads to sin. “They that will be rich,” is the accurate translation in verses 1 Timothy 6:9–10. It describes a person who has to have more and more material things in order to be happy and feel successful. But riches are a trap; they lead to bondage, not freedom. Instead of giving satisfaction, riches create additional lusts (desires); and these must be satisfied. Instead of providing help and health, an excess of material things hurts and wounds. The result Paul described very vividly: “Harmful desires … plunge men into ruin and destruction” (1 Tim. 6:9). It is the picture of a man drowning! He trusted his wealth and “sailed along,” but the storm came and he sank.
It is a dangerous thing to use religion as a cover-up for acquiring wealth. God’s laborer is certainly worthy of his hire, but his motive for laboring must not be money. That would make him a “hireling,” and not a true shepherd.
We should not ask, “How much will I get?” but rather “How much can I give?”
For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Timothy 6:8–11). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
- Proverbs 27:24 (NASB) — 24 For riches are not forever, Nor does a crown endure to all generations.
- Job 22:20 — 20 Saying, ‘Truly our adversaries are cut off, And their abundance the fire has consumed.’
- Psalm 49:10 — 10 For he sees that even wise men die; The stupid and the senseless alike perish And leave their wealth to others.
- Psalm 49:17 — 17 For when he dies he will carry nothing away; His glory will not descend after him.
- Proverbs 22:1–2 — 1 A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, Favor is better than silver and gold. 2 The rich and the poor have a common bond, The Master is the maker of them all.
- Proverbs 23:5 — 5 When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings Like an eagle that flies toward the heavens.
- Ecclesiastes 2:18 — 18 Thus I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, for I must leave it to the man who will come after me.
- Ecclesiastes 2:21 — 21 When there is a man who has labored with wisdom, knowledge and skill, then he gives his legacy to one who has not labored with them. This too is vanity and a great evil.
- Ecclesiastes 2:26 — 26 For to a person who is good in His sight He has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, while to the sinner He has given the task of gathering and collecting so that he may give to one who is good in God’s sight. This too is vanity and striving after wind.
- Jeremiah 17:11 — 11 “As a partridge that hatches eggs which it has not laid, So is he who makes a fortune, but unjustly; In the midst of his days it will forsake him, And in the end he will be a fool.”
- Luke 12:20–21 — 20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ 21 “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
- 1 Timothy 6:7 — 7 For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.