Deceptive Riches

“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

There were 10,000 people. God provided for them all. Which ones were saved and went to heaven? All of them, or just a few?

In his word, God says that he blesses both evil and good people:

“… for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45)

Being provided for, therefore, is not necessarily a sign that you are going to go to heaven when you die. For in that same passage, Jesus also said, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat” (Matthew 7:13).

It is therefore not the physically blessed that will go to heaven, but those who “enter in at the narrow gate”, according to this passage. And the currency of the kingdom is not money, as someone aptly pointed out. It is, rather, faith in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Therefore, do not desire riches, but desire faith, and wisdom to serve God.

There are also plenty of places in Scripture where we see that the person who is rich, is not always blessed by God:

“For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” (Psalm 73:3)

These people about whom the psalmist wrote were rich. But they were also cursed, for we read:

“Surely [God] didst set them in slippery places: [He] castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors.” (Psalm 73:18-19)

They did not know God. But they were rich.

The rich man from the story of “Lazarus and the rich man” in Luke 16 also went to hell, for we read:

“But Abraham said [to the rich man], Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.” (Luke 16:25)

Jesus said of rich people, “And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24) ++

Again, there was the man who stored up his riches in barns — that was as good as he could think to do with them. God said he was a “fool” (God’s words, not mine):

“But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” (Luke 12:20)

James curses the rich man and blesses the poor man:

“Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.” (James 1:9-11)

Then he does it again:

“Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?” (James 2:5-6)

Then he does it again:

“Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.” (James 5:1)

I’m not sure if you’re beginning to see the pattern yet. But I do!

Riches are not something you or I should desire. They are not something that we should set our hearts on.

Paul, I think, summed it up best.

“And having food and raiment [clothing] let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” (1 Timothy 6:8-11)

What we should desire, therefore, are not riches, but rather these good things that the Scriptures tell us here: “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” (verse 11b)

Remember, from these verses — and a whole lot more that we could find if we wanted to — it is not the rich who are blessed of God, but rather those that acknowledge him as Lord and serve Him and do His will.

Are you doing his will?

Not all rich people are destined for heaven.

Don’t be deceived.

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++ A Greek man said to me one day that the word for “camel” used here is actually “camelos” which, in Greek, can also mean “rope” — I think it is a much better translation than “camel” personally.