The danger of riches – Deuteronomy 6.1,8-15
Posted: 28 April 2011 in Deuteronomy

Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it:….. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates. And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not, And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full; Then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name. Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you; (For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.”

The above is one of those warnings about being seduced by material prosperity which are scattered throughout the Bible. Jesus says essentially the same thing when he warns that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. The problem with riches is that human beings are inverterate materialists, and there is no idol more seductive than money. Implicit in that fact is the paradoxical notion that those who are blessed by God may be reduced to poverty by him, whereas those not so blessed are left to pursue an idol. 1 Timothy 6.7-9 is also of relevance here:

For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.

To pursue material prosperity once our basic needs have been met is to use for some other purpose the life given to us in order that we may serve God. It is easy to see how that might be offensive to this consumer driven society of ours, and still more to the theologically nonsensical prosperity gospel, but the Bible means what it says when it says blessed are the poor (Luke 6.20).

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