Monday, 25 September 2017

How Riches Deceive the Heart

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 (Matthew 13:22).

The Bible warns that riches are deceitful, not the love of riches, but riches itself. Jesus had much to say about riches.

He rebukes his disciples that no one can serve both God and mammon (Matthew 6:24), not being anxious about basic earthly needs (Matthew 6:25-34). He rebuke the rich young ruler who was not willing to lay all things down to follow Christ for not doing so, and turned to his disciples and warned them that they must also do so (Matthew 19:16-22; Mark 10:17-27). He rebuked the man who demanded his 'fair share' of his inheritance to not seek the abundance of possession, with the parable of the rich fool (Luke 12:13-21).

Many Christians try to construe Jesus' teachings on mammon as that which only relates to money, and not other things which are sourced by money or through money. However, such a construing of his teachings on money not only detracts from his teachings, but takes away its power entirely, such that it is rendered meaningless. Many also try to make Jesus' teachings on mammon only about the love of money. However, it is actually 1 Timothy 6:9-11 which refers to the love of money.

The teachings of Jesus on mammon, however, are not simply about seeking the abundance of riches, but the seeking of earthly riches itself. Such seeking of earthly riches is a mind not fully submitted to God, in humbling trusting in His Provision. Many tragically interpret this to mean that such a teaching means one should not work. Such is an asinine interpretation, which is based on the false doctrine that work is for money, and not God. Work is to be done for God, and money and other earthly needs will be provided (Matthew 6:30-34). One must do good work for God faithfully first, seeking His righteousness and His Kingdom. Only then will money be given to one by God as He has promised in Matthew 6:33-34, not for oneself or one's own desires, but to use as a steward for the Kingdom of God.

To think that one is to work for the money for oneself, to ensure one has one's basic needs and that of one's family is to show little faith: 

Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
(Matthew 6:30-32).

Money and all other earthly temporal things are simply an illusion.  

Proverbs 23:4-5 instructs us not to labour to be rich:

 Labour 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.

Riches in Proverbs 23:4 does not simply refer to what would be regarded from the earthly perspective as "excessive" or "high" wealth or riches. It refers to any thing which one works towards for earthly material comfort or security. To labour for such comfort or security is to seek one's own wisdom, instead of God's wisdom. Therefore, it says "cease from your own wisdom".  Rather, one is to labour for God, to be rich towards God, and not towards earthly things to. Those who work to be rich toward earthly things, as opposed to towards God will be destroyed (Luke 12:18-21)

It is clear that one cannot work to be rich towards both God and towards that which is of mammon, that is anything that mammon can buy, be it food, drink, car, houses or other temporal earthly possession. You will devote yourself towards one and not the other, they are opposing masters (Matthew 6:24).

Mammon is a master who opposes God. He demands people trust in him to seek what they want, or more subtly, what they need, by seeking him. He promises security in all kinds of earthly things that money can be used to acquire, gain or accumulate more of. However, such things are a mere illusion in themselves. They tempt people to be proud and smug, by providing a false sense of security, and therefore pervert the hearts of people who despise those who do not possess as much earthly wealth as they do. 

Such hatred need not manifest in outward anger or a desire to murder those with less. Indifference towards those with less, and the presumptuous attitude in simply assuming those who are poorer than oneself to be less blessed or at fault for their plight is also hatred of the poor.

Such hatred of those who are poorer than oneself is not only normal, but 'respectable' in the world. Such hatred is even rampant in the modern Church, the Church of Laodicea. Do many people in the modern Church not hate the poor by simply assuming themselves to be more righteous and favoured by God because of their wealth? Do they not disdain those who give up everything they could have had to truly serve God?

However, all things on earth are vanity, temporal, and fading away. One cannot trust them. They can be gone away in a second. God can take them away in a second.  So, only a fool would trust in such things.

However, heavenly riches last. They do not rot, nor can they be stolen. So, a wise person would give up everything to accumulate heavenly riches, living as though he did not have the earthly possessions he had, rightly treating them as a vain things, as nothing, hating them as merely earthly temporal possession:

 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:
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
(Matthew 6:19-21).

Do not be deceived. You cannot serve or strive for both earthy wealth, riches, comfort, security and pleasure, and God. You will only serve, and seek one and not the other. Do not be deceived the deceitfulness of riches which so makes one smug and perverts the heart into thinking oneself to be independent of God, and hate God.

Postscript:

See also an excellent sermon titled It is Difficult for Americans to Enter Heaven: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDwNGXciNCQ