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OVERCOMING AN UNHEALTHY DESIRE FOR RICHES

OVERCOMING AN UNHEALTHY DESIRE FOR RICHES

In today’s article I’ll attempt to grasp the nuance in a controversial subject, which after having read a few scriptures would seem to be contradictory to the naked eye. But, for those of us who are true followers of Christ and trust the inspiration of the Holy Bible, we know by faith that there is no contradiction in the Holy Scriptures, only mysteries that require deeper meditation and study to draw it out. Solomon famously penned, “Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out” (Prov.20:5). If counsel in man’s heart is so deep that it takes a man of understanding to draw it out, how much more the heart of God? We need the Spirit of Counsel to draw this counsel out of the heart of God contained in the scriptures, and praise be to God He has generously poured out his Spirit upon us in these last days. He has generously poured out his Spirit of Understanding that we might draw from the deep of God.


The subject of wealth and riches requires such a spirit. We must have God’s understanding on the subject so that we do not go to one extreme or the other concerning this subject. God wants his people to prosper, have all their needs met, and be strengthened in their assignments from him, even strengthened monetarily to fully walk out the call. But God does not want the power that is money and wealth to destroy us, or to corrupt our souls, which is made clear biblically that such a possibility exists for anyone, even for the most noble and pure of heart among us. Let us look into the scripture to grasp the subtleties in this discussion by the Spirit of God so that we might receive all the blessing that God has for us and not be destroyed by them.


(Prov.23:4-5) KJV

4 “Labor not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.

5 Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.”


Upon a recent morning time of devotions I stumbled upon this scripture and was struck by it as I meditated upon it. In my early morning studies I’ve been going through the book of Proverbs lately and have been receiving tremendous blessing just meditating upon timeless wisdom contained within these Scriptures. This text struck me because, as I alluded to before, it seemed to be contrary in nature to other scriptures, which even Solomon himself wrote in this same book speaking about wealth.


For instance, Solomon wrote in (Prov.10:4), “He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.”. He wrote in (Prov.13:4) “The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.” In other scriptures such as (Deut.8:18) the scripture plainly states that it is God that gives us the power to get wealth that He may establish his covenant with us. Yes, this was written originally to the Jews in the Old Testament, but it can apply to the church as well, for we are in covenant with God and are in need of wealth as well to fulfill our purpose and mandate just as Israel was. The bible declares over and over again that God rewards hard work with wealth, that it’s His desire and will to give us riches (and yes, material riches is clearly stated in that generous desire), and that it is His promise to give us these things. So why would the bible tell us in (Prov.23:4-5) to not labor for that which the Lord is desiring to give to us? Why would God tell us to not labor for the very thing which He promised our labor would produce? Let’s go deeper and discover the answer!


(Prov.23:4-5) Amplified Bible

4 “Do not weary yourself [with the overwhelming desire] to gain wealth; Cease from your own understanding of it.

5 When you set your eyes on wealth, it is [suddenly] gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings like an eagle that flies to the heavens.”


After reading some commentary on this passage in Proverbs twenty-three I chose to re-post the same scripture in the Amplified Bible because I believe that this version, along with several others, help us to see the greater meaning in this particular text. Notice the clarification provided when verse four is translated, “Do not weary yourself with overwhelming desire to gain wealth.” The deeper meaning here is found in the words “overwhelming desire”. This speaks of an unhealthy obsession with gaining wealth and obtaining riches which indicates an unhealthy soul that is doomed to be disappointed.


Jesus taught us that we should labor to store up treasure in heaven where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal, rather than laboring to store up treasure upon the earth where our treasure is vulnerable to such things (Matt.6:19-21). Now once again Jesus knew the scriptures, and He was not carelessly contradicting the words of Jehovah from other parts of the bible. The bible tells us to deal wisely with our money and riches, and yes to store up or save some of it here upon the earth, as wisdom instructs (Prov.21:20). The bible commands us to be “good men” by leaving an inheritance for our children’s children (Prov.13:22). You can’t leave an inheritance that reaches your children’s children unless you save, invest, and grow your wealth. No, Jesus was not contradicting His own Word, for it was his words filling the prophets and poets of the Old Testament via the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that produced such Scriptures. No, He was simply helping us to set their priorities straight. This is usually always the issue involving righteousness and money; not how much you have or how much you make, but where your heart is and where your priorities are. We should strive to enter our into our rest by faith, a rest which is in Christ (Heb.4:11). In this place of resting in the Lord, abiding in Christ, whether riches come or riches go we will be rooted and grounded in him and will not be moved from this firm foundation of faith. When a person begins to love money more than Christ then they begin to serve unrighteous mammon and can become a tool of Satan very easily and very subtly. When we learn to focus on the true riches of the heart in Christ then all that we are and all that we have belongs to him, and we can trust him all things being completely free from the enemy’s control.


WEALTH HAS WINGS TO FLY BACK TO HEAVEN


It was Job that famously penned these words at the beginning of his God-sanctioned crucible:


(Job 1:21)

“Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”


All blessing, all power, all glory, all dominion belongs to the Lord (Ps.62:11; Jude 1:25). If there be any of these things upon the earth then they proceeded from the Father above, and to him they must return. Our spirits proceeded from him, he gave us life, and that is why our lives must return to him. We must all stand before the Lord one day to give an account for our lives (Rom.14:12). As Job put it, we are born naked and naked we return to the Lord. This is the natural cycle of life which God has ordained and it is just and right. Because it is God who gives, it is therefore God who has the right to take away at any time. This is the meaning of (Prov.23:5) when Solomon compared riches to an eagle that can suddenly take flight at any time and soar into the heavens.


Job was a very wealthy man. He had seven sons and three daughters, and his substance and possessions were great (Job 1:1-4). But suddenly it all vanished. Suddenly the Lord took it all from him without even a moment’s notice, and because Job was a perfect and upright man, one who feared the Lord (Job 1:1), He immediately blessed the Lord with his heart and with his lips, even though He was in great pain. He immediately spoke wisdom instead of foolishness in anger because He was of such a noble heart. Wisdom acknowledged in his heart and with his lips that God was justified in taking back that which He gave. Wisdom acknowledged that God was righteous in his taking, just as He was righteous in the giving, and Job blessed the name of the Lord with his lips instead of cursing God! Wow! Consider the perseverance of God’s servant Job (Ja.5:11).


This is why it is foolish and a recipe for disaster to desire riches with an overwhelming or unhealthy desire. It is foolish because God reserves the right to take it all from you at the drop of a hat if it gives glory to him and serves his purposes. But if you focus your affection on the Lord, if you direct all of your love and pleasure toward him, then you will never be disappointed and you will never be moved in your faith. Whether you’re rich or poor, powerful or weak in men’s eyes, having possessions or lacking every part of an abundant life, the joy of the Lord will be your strength like it was for Job and you will yet rise again. You will yet see your latter end greatly increase just as Job the servant of the Lord saw. The devil will have no control over you in pleasure or in pain, in plenty or in poverty. That’s real power that very few come to possess. That was the power of Job.


CONCLUSION


The Lord has made both the rich and the poor, and they both come together in him (Prov.22:2). Your rich self can meet your poor self at any moment, or visa versa, and it all happens within the scope of God’s domain. Live ready to bless the Lord in good times and in bad like Job did, regardless of your net worth, and you will never be shaken.


As the bible promises, if you are diligent in your work, if you value wisdom more than money, if you handle your money wisely and do not spend every last dime you make, then you will increase your riches and grow your wealth. But it’s all for nothing if in the end your wealth has you instead you simply being a steward over what God has given you. At any moment your wealth may grow wings to serve God’s purposes, so don't get attached to it. Love the Lord and love people. Don’t love money. Money is not good marriage material. She may walk out the door any time, but the Lord will never leave you nor forsake you.


Rather use money to better love the Lord and people and your heart will stay free of Mammon’s traps. Your heart will stay fortified against Satan’s devices involving money which He uses to shake people off of the firm foundation of faith in Christ. Christ is the pearl of great price. Christ is the true treasure worthy of selling everything to obtain (Matt.13:46). Keep Christ at the top of your asset acquiring chart and you will never be overwhelmed by disappointment or overtaken by discouragement. He is the greatest treasure and He can never be taken from you! He is the greatest and most secure investment you could ever have, and the value he provides will only grow each and every day of your life into eternity! Let go of the lust and love for things like money and power and know what it means to rest in the Prince who is Peace who rules the universe as well as your heart!


In His Service,

Stephen Powell

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