We live in a society which tells us it is okay to desire more and more. After all, this is the American way, right? The dominant value of our culture is, “What will I get out of it?” We are being instructed from a child that the true meaning in life will come through the possession of more things. It is a lie which has entered into the church. Churches seek the rich and well to do over the poor in order to increase their coffers. Brethren, sin lies at the door!
Preachers plead for people to give offerings to God, then it is spent on softer pews, nicer carpeting, better air conditioning, and higher wages for the highly educated, soft spoken preacher (Rom 16:17,18). Is it any wonder why so many fall asleep when the preacher is preaching? God doesn’t want you so comfortable that you fall asleep. What God wants your eyes to see, ears to hear, and minds to understand what is being preached.
Is it any wonder the world doesn’t take the church seriously anymore? We are caught up in the same rat race as the wicked are. We often say we trust in God, but in truth we trust in riches. Do you really think God needs your money? Do you really think God wants you to be rich? If so, read James chapter 5:1-5. Riches are the consolation of the wicked (Lk 6:24). Have we become wicked?
The church is so affluent that it seeks out politicians to give them tax breaks at the expense of the poor, and then we justify ourselves that we can do more good with the money than the wicked. Many even want the government to give them a tax break on the contributions they give to God. In actuality, that would make the government a contributor to the church as opposed to its members.
Greed is properly defined a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (as money) than is needed. Greed is repeatedly listed with all kinds of “serious” sins in the scripture. Greed keeps company with immorality, impurity, adultery, homosexuality, thievery, and the like (Eph 5:5 ff, 1 Cor 6:9, Col 3:5,6). We even remove people from church membership for adultery, homosexual practices, or stealing. When was the last time you heard of anyone being kicked out of the church for being greedy? We accept greed as one of the “better” sins, even respectable and admirable to most. So we sanctify greed. I even heard a rich elder say God blessed him with the talent to make lots of money. He compared riches with the talents of preaching and teaching God’s Word. What have we become? Until we come to accept the sin of greed as just as serious as adultery we’ll never overcome it. Until we actually believe that the love of money is the root of all evil, evil shall encompass us and overtake us, and eventually destroy us (1 Tim 6:3-10).
Do we not remember the words of the apostle Peter who told us the end of all things? “The heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be destroyed by fire”? That new shiny car, expensive house, fancy clothes and shoes, expensive jewelry, powerful motorcycle, will soon be burned up. Even those leisure trips around the world, botox, plastic surgeries, and all other cosmetics we adorn our bodies with will soon be forgotten. Vanity of vanities, all is vanity (Eccl 1:2,14 cf; 2:17,19)! Our possessions shall all pass away with a great noise and melt away, our luxuries will be forgotten, even as Sodom and Gomorrah is no more, so soon shall we. And since everything is going to be destroyed, how then ought we to live? (2 Peter 3:10,11)
Do we not know of the story of the rich man and Lazarus (Lk 16:19-31). Lazarus was a beggar, unhealthy, and homeless. Today, the greedy would see him as a plague on society. Someone who was not ambitious and greedy as we are and could not contribute to our way of life. In fact, most Christians today don’t see themselves as Lazarus. They desire to be as the rich man. You know, the man who wore fine clothes and fares sumptuously every day. They want the rich man’s life and not Lazarus’ life. Do you remember which one of these ended up in Abraham’s bosom, a euphemism for heaven? A small hint, it wasn’t the rich man. He ended up in hell fire. If you recall, the rich man could not buy his way out of hell. He is still there today. Do you want to join him?
Jesus commanded his servants to take up their cross and follow him and all who refused was not worthy of Christ (Mt 10:38) . “ Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul (Mt 16:24-26)? A Christian’s life is not a life of riches and comfort, but of trials, persecutions and temptations. He that overcomes these shall receive a crown of life (Jam 1:12). Jesus commanded the rich young ruler to sell all that he had and give it to the poor and to take up his cross and follow him. He refused (Mk 10:21,22). Will you?
The rich will not easily enter into heaven. In fact, 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 heaven (Mt 19:24).
Don’t wait to lift up your eyes in hell before you understand that God wants you rich in faith and not rich in worldly goods (Jam 2:5). Remember the words of James who warned us all, “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you” (Jam 5:1-5). Seek first the kingdom of heaven and your earthly needs, not desires, shall be given you (Mt 6:28-33). What does it profit you if you gain the entire world and then you lose your own soul? That’s a one word answer, “NOTHING”!