It’s interesting to note, that when you study the life and teachings of Jesus, whenever the issue of money or possessions came up as a subject during His ministry – Jesus NEVER ENCOURAGED or MOTIVATED his followers to seek after MATERIAL or WORLDLY or TEMPORARY wealth and riches. In fact, Jesus ALWAYS encouraged His followers to seek after heavenly things and godliness rather than to seek after material or temporary wealth.
There are MANY scriptures in the Bible and in Jesus’ teachings where Jesus told His followers that the pursuit and the love of money and material wealth posed a great danger to their relationship with God and to their faith.
The kind of preaching about acquiring wealth or riches that is preached today – or the “prosperity gospel” as it is sometimes called – where the pursuit of material wealth is emphasized over the pursuit of true godliness is very flawed and at most unbiblical whenever the prosperity gospel teachings are put under the correct scrutiny of God’s word and teachings.
1 Timothy 6:6-10
Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
The word of God warns us that the desire to be rich or the love and pursuit of material wealth can lead to many snares and temptations which may end up leading people astray and away from true faith in God.
It is important to understand that money in itself is not evil, but the love of money and the love of material possessions can lead to all kinds of evil.
Below are various Biblical reasons as to what the dangers and snares are, when a person pursues after riches:
THE DANGERS OF LOVING MONEY & DESIRING RICHES
(1) THE LOVE OF MONEY LEADS TO ALL KINDS OF EVIL – (1 Timothy 6:10 – For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil …)
The love of money can be so powerful that people will practice witchcraft & voodoo in order to obtain wealth; some will kill for money; some will marry for money; some will sell their bodies sexually for money; some will sell their souls for money; some will exploit the weak and the desperate for money; some will even deny Christ and speak heresy for money;
Judas betrayed Jesus and was rewarded for his betrayal with money.
According to scripture, there are no limits to the kind of evil that people can do if the love of money is present because “the love of money a root of ALL kinds of evil”. Therefore money is not something that a person should love or lust for. The reason is that when we love money, we open ourselves to ALL kinds of temptations and wickedness.
(2) THE PURSUIT OF RICHES LEADS TO GREED – (1 Timothy 6:6-10 – Now godliness with contentment is great gain… For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness …)
Problems can always arise when we do not live in contentment. When we are not content with what God has given us at a particular time, we then become governed by our flesh. And when we are governed by the flesh and not by God, we then succumb to fleshly characteristics such as greed, where we want more than we actually need. Greediness becomes the motivating factor by which we pursue after material wealth and riches and greed is an ungodly and forbidden characteristic. (Read: Biblical Prosperity (Part 2) – The Rich Fool) to learn more about the dangers of greed.
(3) RICHES CAN PREVENT YOU FROM LIVING GENUINELY FOR GOD – (Matthew 19:21-24 – Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”)
Do you own your possessions? Or do your possessions own you? Would you put God FIRST in all areas of your life and follow Christ as your NUMBER ONE priority instead of pursuing after material wealth and riches? In Matthew 6:33 Jesus is very clear about what we should seek FIRST in our lives (Matthew 6:33 – But seek FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you). Therefore above every personal desire and need, God wants us to FIRST seek His kingdom AND His RIGHTEOUSNESS. The problem with the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:16-23 is that this rich man valued his personal wealth and possessions as being of more importance than following Jesus. The rich man may have initially claimed to have followed God’s commandments and he may have had knowledge of the scriptures, but the TRUE nature of his heart was revealed when Jesus told him to sell his possessions and follow Him. The rich man’s heart was with his possessions and not with God. He loved his possessions and wealth more than he loved God. As a result his riches prevented him from GENUINELY following the Lord.
(4) THE LOVE OF MONEY IS IDOLATRY – (Matthew 6:24 – “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.)
Mammon is personified as a false god of riches & money. Mammon as a false god attempts to substitute God’s role of provision in a person’s life. Therefore instead of man looking to God for his provisions, man looks to mammon for provisions. This is why Jesus clearly has a problem with people’s love for money. If our love and loyalty is to the pursuit of money, then it means that our relationship with God is automatically compromised. However, if our loyalty and love is with God then the issue of money no longer becomes important in our lives. According to Jesus, we CANNOT serve BOTH money and God at the same time. God equates the love of money and our loyalty to money to be equal to loving and serving a false god.
(5) THE PURSUIT OF RICHES TAKES YOUR FOCUS OFF THE REAL PRIZE – (Matthew 6:19-21 – “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”).
Jesus emphasizes that the pursuit of heavenly treasures is more important than the pursuit of temporary wealth and riches. In 1 Timothy 6:7 we are reminded that when we were born we brought nothing into this world. Therefore when we die we will not take any material possession or money with us. The love of money can deceive us into believing that we will keep our material possessions and money forever. However the true treasure and rewards we must seek after are the treasures in heaven. These treasures that Jesus mentions await us when we have a genuine personal relationship with God and when we live a life of genuine service and obedience to God and His word.
(6) THE LOVE OF POSSESSIONS & MONEY LEAD TO SELF-DECEPTION & COVETOUSNESS – (Luke 12:15 – And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”)
Another danger concerning the love of money is that it can deceive people into believing that their success in life is measured by how much money they make. However Jesus teaches that our success or life is not measured by the abundance of our money or possessions. Even our spiritual maturity or relationship with God can never be measured by the size of our bank accounts or by the amount of possessions that we own. For example, in the Bible, Joseph was a slave of his Egyptian master, but even though Joseph was a slave, the word of God referred to Joseph as being a successful or prosperous man (Genesis 39:2,3 – And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand). Read also Biblical Prosperity (Part 1) – The Study of Joseph
And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Money is a mere tool. God wants us to pursue Him above ALL things – including money. God wants us to put Him FIRST and He wants us to rely on Him to provide for our EVERY need. Money does not satisfy (Ecclesiastes 5:10). However God only can satisfy us. Therefore, whatever provisions we need, we must rely on the Lord to supply according to HIS riches and not according to yours.