Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 8, 1971
NUMBER 38, PAGE 7-8a

The Love For Riches — 2

Harry E. Ozment

In our last article, we studied riches in general — our general attitude toward them compared with God's attitude. The Bible also has a great deal to say concerning love for riches. It might be well to observe here that a poor person can love money just as much as a rich person can. I have heard of people loving $50. This can send their soul to hell just as fast as loving $50 million. The Bible teaches that love for riches:

(1) Makes us forget God. God's warning to Israel should serve as a lesson to us: "When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the Lord thy God for the good land which he hath give'. thee. Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day." (Deut. 8:10-11) This is exactly what has happened in America. God has been good to us — and this is how we show our gratitude! Look, for example, at the attendance at gospel meetings. We thrill to hear reports of 30 and 40 years ago that tell us the meeting houses were packed. People were even sitting on the pulpits and standing on the outside looking through the windows. But no such thing today. People don't care about a gospel meeting — they don't care about the gospel — they don't even care about God! They're not poor anymore — they're rich! And, as a result, people have become independent and are walking around with the subconscious attitude, "Who needs God?" Sad — but true. America has forgotten God. Their interests are no longer centered on things divine, but on this old worldly dog-eat-dog rat race (which is emitted from the love of riches). Jesus tells a parable that illustrates this point very well: "The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: and he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, "This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And 1 will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry." (Lk. 12:16-19) Count those personal pronouns — there are no less than 11 of them. All he could think about was, me, me, me — and he forgot all about God. And God called the man a fool in the next verse. How true! How true! (Cf. Matt. 6:19-21; 13: 22; I Tim. 6:17)

(2) Makes us disregard God's law. This is exactly what happened in the case of a young man who encountered Jesus on a particular occasion: "And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? ... Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions." (Matt. 19:16, 21-22) This young man had love for riches in the top priority spot of his heart. And as long as the situation remained unchanged, he was not about to obey all of God's commands. Jesus commented afterward: "Verily, I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." (Matt. 19:23-24) Why is this so? Because it is most difficult for a rich man to humble himself, submit his whole will to God, and obey God's commands (cf. Deut. 31:20) Paul wrote to Timothy, "But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." (I Tim. 6:9-10) Therefore, this can easily happen to a Christian: "He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful." (Matt. 13:22) Jesus also said in Matt. 6:21, "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." When a person is converted to Christ, the affections of his heart are changed by faith. But when a person loses his faith and trust in and love for the Almighty by the least degree, the word is then choked, his treasure is no longer in Christ, and is a dead branch. Let us be sure that this does not happen to us.

(3) Provokes God. This should come as no surprise in view of the foregoing. A person permits the love to make him forget about God and His commands, not only deserves the righteous wrath of God, but should expect it. In Deut. 31:20, God warned: "For when I shall have brought them into the land which I sware unto their fathers, that floweth with milk and honey; and they shall have eaten and filled themselves, and waxen fat; then will they turn unto gods, and serve them, and provoke me, and break my covenant." (cf. Lk. 12:20)

(4) Will cause our fall. This is just as certain as God: "He that trusteth in his riches than fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch." (Prov. 11:28) If our treasure is not in heaven (Matt. 6:19-21), then there's only one place it could be, and that's exactly where we shall fall. That fool in Luke 12 found this out the hard way! "But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou halt provided?' (v. 20)

This should indeed provoke a self-examination upon the part of each one of us. And as we examine ourselves, it would be well to remember Christ's question in Matt. 16:26: "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"

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