Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 1, 1971
NUMBER 37, PAGE 7b-8a

The Love For Riches-1

Harry E. Ozment

We are living today in a very rich and affluent society. In 1941, only one American family in 20 had an income of $5000 a year or more; today, more than 12 out of 20 have that much. This has its advantages, of course — less severe poverty, less disease, higher standard of living, more education, etc. However, along with this "rich" society comes a general love of riches that is apparent on all sides. In the Saturday Evening Post, the results of a very illuminating and revealing Roper Poll along this line were revealed. Of the people surveyed (who are supposed to represent an accurate cross-section of America), for an offer of $1,000,000:

(1) 1% stated that they would leave their families permanently.

(2) 4% stated that they would give up their American citizenship.

(3) 10% stated that they would marry someone they did not love.

(4) 11% stated that they would give up all their friends permanently.

(5) 12% stated that they would completely undress in public.

(6) 13% stated that they would serve a year's jail term on a framed charge.

(7) 14% stated that they would be willing to take a dangerous job in which they had a 1 in 10 chance of losing their lives.

(8) 21% stated that they would become a beggar for one year.

This poll should be disturbing to any Christian. This whole world has a warped view of money and riches. For this reason, we need to notice carefully what God has said concerning riches and the love for riches and then, all the light of God's word, examine our motives and feelings regarding this. God's word has much to say regarding riches in general:

(1) Riches are transitory King Solomon said:"Labor not to be rich, cease from thine own wisdom. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven." (Prov. 23:4-5) Riches are fleeting. They are like a bubble which floats beautifully through the air one moment and then bursts into nothingness the next moment. A person is indeed foolish if he invests all of his interests, talents, activities, and life into the acquisition of something that could vanish at any time and that will certainly vanish (as far as he is concerned) at death. Koheleth, the writer of Ecclesiastes, was searching for true happiness. Among other things, the Preacher sought happiness through great riches. What happened? "But those riches perish by evil travail: and he begetteth a son, and there is nothing in his hand. As he came forth of his mother's womb, naked shall he return to go as he came, and shall take nothing of the labour, which he may carry away in his hand. And this also is a sore evil, that in all points as he came, so shall he be and what profit hath he laboured for the wind?" (Eccl 5:14-16) Yes — this is all vanity (cf. Jer. 48:36; Lk. 12:20; I Tim. 6:7). This is why Jesus said, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal." (Matt. 6:19-20).

(2) Riches do not really satisfy. The wise man said, "Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death." (Prov. 11:4) A person that devotes his life toward the attainment of riches is a person who is putting the wrong estimate of value on life. Jesus said, "Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth." (Lk. 12:15) This can be seen on all sides. When a loved one is sick and about to die, do we rush home and count our money? No — we turn to God. This can be illustrated in the "hippie' Movement. True, most youngsters in the movement are in it for "kicks" — but some are searching desperately for something to satisfy their longings. They have come from affluent homes, they have tried LSD, they have tried "free love," etc. — all to no avail. No, riches and the things of this world do not satisfy (cf. Psa. 37:16; Prov. 10:2; 15:16; Lk. 12:15). This accounts for the words of Prov. 13:7: "There is that maketh himself rich, yet have nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches."

(3) Money breeds discontent. "He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this also is vanity." (Eccl. 5:10) This is what we call "ole fashion" greed. Give a man a million, and he'll try for two. I have never heard a man complain that he was too rich — have you? Of course, this is not saying that a man should not try to better himself, but the point is that it is a sin to devote our time and talents exclusively to the attainment of riches (which is a manifestation of greed). Paul expressed it very well in I Tim. 6:8: "And having food and raiment let us be therewith content."

(4) Possession of riches causes discomfort. I have heard of some wealthy people who were obsessed with the feeling that -someone was trying to steal all their riches. For example, it is rumored that John Paul Getty, perhaps the richest man in the world, has some 40 watchdogs guarding his estate. Do you think a man like that is truly happy? That man is living in fear. And rightly so! If someone perchance did steal all of his wealth, then his Whole life would be gone. Koheleth said in Eccl. 5:12: "The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep."

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