The Deceitfulness of Riches: Five Diagnostic Questions

Who is in danger of being deceived by riches? Is it those who are rich already, or those far from it?

“How does material wealth deceive us? By making promises it can’t keep. Money promotes itself as the answer to our problems, a barometer of God’s blessing and his ability to provide for us. It makes us think our value lies in how much we are able to accumulate, and it promises to provide a type of comfort and rest and abundant pleasure that can only be found in the presence of the Lord.”

 

And others are sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. (Mark 4:18-19)

When Jesus describes the thorns that choke the word of God in the Gospel of Mark, he says that the deceitfulness of riches is one of them. Who is in danger of being deceived by riches? Is it those who are rich already, or those who are far from it? In my experience, it is in times of both want and abundance that I have found the deceitfulness of riches to be a sneaky foe.

How Riches Deceive

How does material wealth deceive us? By making promises it can’t keep. Money promotes itself as the answer to our problems, a barometer of God’s blessing and his ability to provide for us. It makes us think our value lies in how much we are able to accumulate, and it promises to provide a type of comfort and rest and abundant pleasure that can only be found in the presence of the Lord.

While I have never experienced true poverty, my husband and I have gone through periods of financial strain. We had some very tight years, followed by a job change and an income more in line with the upper-middle class community we live in. I felt the Lord taught me a lot about the inclination of my heart to believe in the lies prompted by material prosperity during the lean years. I was surprised, however, by how much I needed to actively guard my thinking with biblical truth in times of abundance.

Five Diagnostic Questions

Because of the constant presence of indwelling sin, I know the danger of being deceived is always with me. I’ve found it helpful to ask myself the following diagnostic questions, to see if my thinking has taken a turn away from the Word of truth:

1. Do I think I will be happier with “just a little bit more”?

It is very tempting to look at the monthly budget and think that just a few more dollars will make all the difference. Contentment seems just one meager pay raise away. However, as Paul says in Philippians 4:11-13:

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13)

These words have helped me realize that contentment is something we learn to practice in the strength of the Lord. It is totally independent of the balance in my bank account, and totally dependent on how much I am remembering and savoring all I have been given in Jesus Christ.

2. Do I find it hard to see my own spiritual poverty and my spiritual wealth in Jesus?

It can be a real snare to a believer when they start to associate their financial condition to their spiritual reality. The wealthy church in Laodicea had deceived themselves into thinking that they were spiritually rich when in fact they were spiritually “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).

It can be hard for me to see my spiritual poverty when I am surrounded by material abundance. Even the disciples were amazed when Jesus warned that the rich would find it difficult to enter the kingdom of God (Mark 10:24). But Jesus taught that it is the poor in spirit, or those who recognize their own spiritual poverty, who will inherit the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3).

On the flip side, when things are tight financially I need to remember that, as a believer, I have been lavished with the riches of God’s glorious inheritance in the saints (Ephesians 1:18). Again and again, I go back to 2 Corinthians 8:9, which reminds me

…for you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.

Read More

©Unlocking the Bible. Used with permission. www.unlockingthebible.org.

×

Aquila Report iOS and Android smart-phone apps are available Download Now