Wanting to Be Rich in Jesus
“But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 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.”
It’s easy to make jokes about the hearse and the U-Haul, and to even buy little cute painted plaques to hang up in our garage that say “you can’t take it with you when you go,” but it’s kind of hard to live this, isn’t it?
Paul teaches this in the context of people trying to use godliness for financial gain. This is deeper than all of the politicians going to church early the Sunday before election day or the local car salesman parking the latest model in the front row of the parking lot.
The quest for riches and financial success runs deep in American culture. The whispering promise that more money and more resources will fix everything echoes from Eden (if only you could have everything, like that apple) to a recent college application question I saw: If you had unlimited resources, how would you heal the world? The question presupposes that the world isn’t healed because of a lack of resources. (This was a Christian college, too.)
The love of money really is the root of all kinds of evil. Money comes up as one of the most common reasons for divorce. Financial debt comes up as one of the most common sources of stress in families and individuals.
Notice that Paul doesn’t say that it’s the rich that fall into this temptation, but those that want to be rich. That covers even more people than those that are rich! Sometimes when I feel God giving me a nudge to do something, the hindrance isn’t “Oh God, if I do that, I won’t become as rich!” but instead the voice is more like “That would be really inconvenient.” That inconvenience is a big red flag, right? What’s keeping my life comfortable and convenient except my cash!?
The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, tenderness, and self-control. If I’m gaining and attaining these with my money, or wishing that I could attain these and I see money as the way to get there, I might be giving money a higher throne than Jesus.
I can pay for next-day shipping, send someone flowers, or even buy a sophisticated filter to control what shows on my TV or internet, but none of that has focused my life on Jesus. None of that will bring about the change of heart that the Holy Spirit wants access to.
Jesus is the greatest quest and the greatest satisfaction we could ever grab ahold of. As we go after Him and reach Him, we see less and less value in the world’s currency.