The Danger with Being Rich
Most of us would consider being rich a good thing. (If you are reading this blog you are probably rich. Check out globalrichlist.com.) It’s like Tevye says in The Fiddler on the Roof: “Lord, I know being rich can be a curse… curse me and may I never recover!”
But did you know that there is danger with being rich? While better than the alternative for most of us, it does have its problems. Consider:
One temptation in being rich (remember, that’s us) is to become arrogant.
We may start to feel that we have made it, develop a confidence or a satisfaction with ourselves (as the rich fool in Luke 12, “I’ll say to my SELF…”). Riches entice us to think that we are “self-made” (it is dangerous to be a self-made person in a God-made world), that we have earned this position, that we are entitled to these riches.
In a final charge to his protégé Timothy, the Apostle Paul instructed him: “Command the rich not to be arrogant or to put their hope in this world, but to put their hope in God” (6:17).
A second pitfall of being rich is to be confident that our future is secure.
We believe that we will be good because we have enough: our portfolio is diversified, our assets are allocated sufficiently, we own enough material possessions to weather the storms. Our hope for a good future is in our stuff, not God.
How do we overcome the danger with being rich? Here’s how to handle our possessions in a godly, healthy way.
First, we receive gratefully.
Realize that life is gift. We are on this earth because we are a part of God’s creative plan for the world. Life did not have to be and life did not have to fall in the way it has for us. We have caught some breaks.
At His Last Supper, Jesus, Who created the world, took the mind of a receiver as He paused to give thanks for all that He had, for all that life had given Him.
And then Jesus shared the bread and the cup with the disciples. That’s the second way to handle being rich:
Second, we share generously.
A practical way to implement the Jesus lifestyle would be to start by giving at least 10% of your financial blessings away. A woman who had 10 coins lost one. That mattered to her. We do not know if she was rich or poor, but 10% of all that anyone has is significant.
That is why the practice of tithing is so helpful in our Christian growth: we are marking that God is significant in our lives, that His Kingdom matters to us, that the mission and impact of His Church is a value to us. We’re made to be generous.
The problem is not being rich, having stuff, or owning possessions. The question is, “Are we using our finances for good, are we generous and willing to share” (I Tim 6:18)? Financial freedom is a great thing, but we are wise to not view our financial freedom solely through the prism of self, that we have enough, but that we view our possessions as a way to make a difference in the lives of people.