“Ephraim boasts, ‘I am very rich; I have become wealthy. With all my wealth they will not find in me any iniquity or sin.'” (Hosea 12:8)
Have you ever wondered why some people who seem to be so wicked and stand for everything that opposes God, get filthy rich? I know when I first became Christian, it was a question I wondered about. But the more I learned about God, the deceitfulness of riches, and what truly constitutes as a blessing from the Lord, I realized that being wealthy often does more harm for someone, than good.
In Hosea 12, some of the sins of Ephraim / Israel are described. One of those sins is the haughtiness, or pride, of being rich. Because Israel was materially prosperous during this time, their wealth deceived them into thinking that it would shelter them and hide their sin. Little did they know that their wealth was actually giving them a false sense of security, and they either believed that God was actually blessing them through their riches, or they believed that the riches themselves would save them.
Revelation 3:17 describes their condition and state of mind perfectly, as Jesus rebukes the church in Laodicea: “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”
Israel’s material prosperity blinded them of their state of sin and need for God, and too often this is the exact same effect of being rich in this current day and age as well.
“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. (Luke 6:24)
Jesus warns us that putting our faith, dependence, or joy on our state of wealth is catastrophic in the lens of eternity. When we do so, we give up the eternal rewards of heaven in exchange for temporary comfort and satisfaction; that of which we can’t take with us once we leave this earth.
That’s not to say that there isn’t a place for wealthy Christians today. If God chooses to bless you with material wealth, then you have a responsibility to be a good steward of your money, using it to do good works in order to expand the reach of the gospel.
“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” (1 Tim. 6:17-19)
We all know the story of the rich, young ruler in Matthew 19, who turned down eternal life with Jesus because he couldn’t bear parting with his money. This is the position we will all be in if God blesses us with material wealth- we’ll have the same decision to make. If we can put God first and not care whether we retain our wealth or not, then it will be a great blessing. But if we put our riches before God, then it will be a tragic curse.
Some of you reading this today may be wealthy (which actually isn’t hard because if you make $32,400/year then you’re in the top 1% worldwide). If you are, then put yourself in the shoes of the rich, young ruler and ask yourself how you would respond to Jesus’ call to action. And as you consider His words, remind yourself that the spiritual blessings that the Lord gives us both while on earth and in heaven, far outweigh anything money can buy or provide!
God may or may not ever ask you to sell every possession you have to follow Him, but it’s not so much about the action, than about your heart’s desire. Without asking, He already knows whether you would give it up today or not, and He doesn’t need your money (which is His to begin with anyway). If you feel trapped by your love of money or material things, then pray to God that He would change your heart.
Don’t be blinded about your spiritual state or right-standing with God, just because you have money. Don’t give in to the deception of wealth.
[From February 2, 2019]