You’re at a Disadvantage

Jun 01, 2023

In my post Who Are the Rich, I explained that when the Bible talks about the rich, it’s talking to you. If you need proof of how rich you are, use the How Rich Am I calculator from Giving What We Can. You’re rich. And because you’re rich, you’re at a disadvantage in your relationship with God.

Why does being rich put you at a disadvantage in your relationship with God?

Gordon MacDonald summaries it well in his book, Secrets of the Generous Life.

“It is one of the great ironies of life: The more I collect materially, the harder it is to trust God spiritually. Stuff and Cash have this insidious way of wrapping themselves around the human spirit and whispering the crippling myth that this is where real value and real security are to be found.”

“With money we have less to pray for. With money we have less sense of dependence on Him. With Money we are tempted toward the myth of self-sufficiency. And with money we face the constant stress of aligning our priorities with kingdom purposes. Oh, this too: With money we are forever fighting pride and risking the loss of humility.”

Paul David Tripp also comments on this in his devotional New Morning Mercies. Below are his comments on Deuteronomy 6: 10-15.

“This side of eternity, material affluence is dangerous. It’s not that material things are bad in and of themselves. God intentionally designed his world to be a beautiful place. It’s not that it’s wrong to enjoy the material world around us. God gave us the capacity to take in and enjoy this beauty. In fact, God placed a desire for beauty in our hearts. The problem with material things is not found in the material things; it’s found in us. Our problem with the material world is a heart problem. This problem is captured here by God’s warning to his people as they enter a land lush with physical glories. The problem is that material affluence has the power to cause us to forget God. The sight, sound, touch, taste, and splendor of these created glories tempt us to think that life is found in having these things and to think we have everything that we need because we have them. Because these things weaken our God awareness and our God hunger, we are then set up to give our hearts to the worship of what is created rather than the worship of the One who created it all. At street level, we forsake the God who created and supplied us with these physical glories, even though we continue to say that we believe in him.

The warning can be stated in a few words: Be careful when you’re full that you do not forget. The physical world is full of many glories, but the pursuit of these glories must not rule my heart because they have no ability whatsoever to offer me the life that I so desperately need. Life is only ever found in what all those earth-bound glories point to—a God of awesome glory who is the Source and Giver of life; life that satisfies and remains forever. Because he is a God of grace, he showers glories on me so that those glories would lead me to him.”

Jesus has a lot to say about money, but a verse that captures this concept well is found in the Gospel of Luke. “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” - Luke 16:13 NIV.

Note that Jesus is not making a command here. He his making a statement about reality.

Now what?

Okay, so you’re rich and that is a barrier to your relationship with God. Now what? How can you overcome the disadvantages wealth places on your spiritual life? Two words: generous giving.

“It is virtually impossible to experience genuine contentment of spirit and the amassing of wealth without the discipline of generous giving.” - Gordon MacDonald.

Randy Alcorn calls giving the “antidote to materialism”.

Finally, Jesus says, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” - 1 Timothy 6: 17-18, emphasis added.

Overcome the spiritual disadvantages of wealth by becoming a generous giver. This is how you take hold of, “life that is truly life.”

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