Since America’s inception, the people living in this country have pursued the betterment of themselves through the acquisition of wealth and riches. Taking full advantage of the freedoms we are graciously given, no barriers exist in this pursuit. The American Dream, as it is called, is today realized by many in the form of large houses, expensive cars, and diversified stock portfolios. Money, it is said, brings about a carefree life where troubles are no where to be found.
The Bible, however, tells us something different. An easy life – one blessed with riches, wealth, and prosperity – is actually fraught with many perils. Unforeseen, these hidden dangers spring upon the naive from within dark corners and never withhold mercy.
The first of these traps is that of the insidious lusts that are brought into fruition. Paul gives a stern warning to the rich in 1 Timothy 6:9-10: “But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (NASB). These lusts are typically manifested in a variety of forms – everything from sexual immorality to an all-consuming greed for more possessions, which is idolatry (Ephesians 5:5). In this sense, it is easy to see why the love of money is the source from which many other kinds of evil spring. Because of this fact, those who have fallen into the snare of greed have only heaped sorrow upon themselves.
According to Jesus, an even more dangerous trap takes hold of those who are controlled by their greed. He says entry into the kingdom of God is impossible. The story is given to us in Luke 18:18-25:
A ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.'”
And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.”
When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.
And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! For 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.” (NASB)
Contrary to what some would argue, Jesus was not advocating a life of poverty for those who follow Him. Instead, He was calling this young man out on his secret sin: covetousness. He was being called to repent of his greed. Instead of choosing to turn from his sin, he decided to follow his own desires. So in love with his riches, he could not give them up even for the sake of his own life. The more prosperity one has, the more difficultly there is in giving up that temporal blessing when Jesus calls for it. Such is the fate of the wealthy in this world.
The graveyard of greed holds many tombs, all of which were built by those who now occupy them. Make sure you are not constructing one for yourself!