THOSE WHO DESIRE TO BE RICH.
Text: 1 Timothy 6:6-10.
About 21 years ago, a Senior Colleague in the ministry who loved me informed me of a money spinning adventure in which he had invested and wanted me to benefit from it as well. I promised to visit him to have proper understanding of how it runs before I could put my little money into it. I did and we spent about two hours discussing the process and the produce of the investment. With a senior minister like him fully involved, I felt I was on the right course of becoming rich quickly.
As I was returning to my pastorium in Ilupeju, 1 Timothy Chapter 6 verse 9, where the topic of the sermon was taken, began to resonate in my ears and heart like never before. I then concluded that God was speaking to me and I must obey. I decided I would not put my money into that venture. Few weeks after, he wanted to know my decision and when I said I am not led to go into it, he advised me to talk with other friends of mine who had joined after our discussion and hear how they have started making money. To me, God has spoken and I must obey. Six months later, the investment scheme crashed and they all lost their money while those who borrowed to invest went into debt.
Today, I see so many adverts on social media inviting men to invest into schemes that can only be described magical and mysterious. I believe most of you here are familiar with products like MMM, RICH CONNECT INVESTMENT PLATFORM/ SOCIAL INSURANCE INVESTMENT PLATFORM and host of others claiming to be able to double your investments in a day of even in minutes. It is N25, 000 to get N50,000, N30,000 to get N60,000, N100,000 to get N200,000 ; N200,000 to get N400,000, N300, 000 to get N600, 000 etc.
Some of them will even claim that they are registered with government and declare they are, No cheat, No scam, No excuses and your money is safe. They come in various designs depending on how they plan to capture the desire/cravings of men. Sometimes, it is even a phone call that the winner of this line had won $1,000 and you should claim it by offering some information concerning yourself. Unfortunately, many people including Christians and even respected Pastors have fallen into this snare. I have no doubt; some of you listening to me today have also been involved one way or the other. May God save you. Amen.
(A) BIBLICAL RESPONSE TO THE CRAVE FOR MONEY- 1 Tim. 6:9-10.
Let us notice in the first place that the emphasis of this text (verse 9) is not on “they that will be rich” (KJV) because riches are ordained of God and when rightly held and rightly used can be an instrument of most beneficent power to the gospel and decent living. The word “will” in the phrase “will be rich,” (KJV) is not the sign of the future tense, but implies an actual “purpose” or “design” to become rich. The reference is to those in whom this becomes the object of earnest desire, and who lay their plans for it, crave for it and desire it at all cost. (NKJV/NIV). Whoever such a man or woman is, be it a Muslim or a Christian, an ordinary Church member or a Deacon or even a Bishop, the Bible says shall fall into many temptations.
Five major things our passage outlines as the dangerous experiences of such men. These are,
- FALLING INTO TEMPTATION AND SNARE- They are tempted to do wicked things in order to accomplish their purposes. And like birds, they are taken in a snare/net and find it difficult to escape. They become involved in the meshes of worldliness, fettered by cares and inordinate desires, artificial needs to the extent that they are no longer freemen. Some have joined secret cults all in the desire to become rich.
- FALLING INTO MANY FOOLISH AND HARMFUL LUSTS-9b. They becomes foolish because they lose their intelligence/senses and make choices that are injurious to their body and soul.
- ENGAGING IN ACTS THAT DROWN MEN INTO DESTRUCTION AND PERDITION-9c. The Greek word rendered “drown” here is “βυθίζω/buthizō” which means “to sink in the deep” or “to cause to sink.” The meaning here is, that they become submerged as a ship that sinks. The destruction is complete, total ruin of happiness, of virtue, of reputation and of the soul. A large fish hawk swoops down into the waters of the bay and struck its talons into a huge place. The bird rose with its prey, but its weight proved too great and dragged it down. Several times the bird struggled to ascend, but failed and exhausted, it finally fell into the water still clinging to its captive. Its talons were so embedded in the fish that it could not release them, and it was drowned. The “fish died of its wounds, and both were washed ashore where with difficulty they were separated. How many men and women have sunk physically and spiritually because of the desire to be rich?
- STRAINING FROM THE FAITH-vs 10b. The desire to get rich has made many to abandon the standards of the faith and teachings of the Bible have been watered down. Many pulpits today are also guilty of this for Pastors no longer tell their members the truth for the fear of losing their big offerings, tithes and donations.
- PIERCING ONESELF THROUGH WITH MANY SORROWS.-10c. The peril here to me is so grave because it is not coming from external factor, but internal. No destruction is as grave as self-destruction. What a dangerous adventure to make one’s life goal the pursuit of the mammon called money. May those who have been caught in the web be delivered today. Amen.
(B) BIBLICAL DEFENSES AGAINST THE DESIRE TO BE RICH-(1Tim. 6:6-8,11) Our passage doesn’t just reveal to us the perils of the desire to get rich, but also gives us clue to how we can defend ourselves against it. These are,
- AVOID EXTRAVAGANT LIVING– Live a life policy of godliness with contentment. (6) The absence of simplicity leads to more evils. Be brave enough to be simple in your habits. Seek to live without ostentation.
- RESOLVE NOT TO WORSHIP ANY GOLDEN CALF. No idolatry is more prevalent than this. Resolve not to earn any shady income or where you have not sowed. A Christian should not engage in gambling, lottery, lotto, pool etc. Let your spiritual antenna always rise against such. Have zero tolerance for reaping where you did not sow.
- LOVE HIGHER THINGS THAN THE WORLD OFFERS. The truth is that the human heart is created to love. So, to avoid the desire/love of money, desire/love higher things. The good will conquer evil by its own inherent force. Love God, love His work, His Church, His people etc. Set your heart on things above. (Col. 3:1-2)
- GIVE FREELY-Always be ready to give to good and godly causes. You will surely deflate the desire to get rich by giving freely and cheerfully.
- PRAY FOR GRACE TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE. You need to pray for the grace to recognize between the love of money and the need for money. You need grace to know when you are crossing the borderline of seeking resources to meet daily living and that of amassing wealth that you may not live to use. If God calls you to a way of making genuine wealth, make it, but do not love money. If God calls you to make wealth, do not make haste to be rich; be willing to wait. Remember, a man may be useful and not be rich. A man may be powerful and not be rich for ideas are more powerful than even dollars. Receive grace to know the difference.
Money and material things may promise happiness, but when they take first place in our lives, we walk on dangerous grounds. Three jolly friends conspired to steal the wealth of a rich man kept in a thick bush worth about 30 million Naira. They achieved their goal and while rejoicing that each of them is N10m richer, they sent the youngest one among them to buy drinks to celebrate. While he was away, the two decided to increase their portion each to 15 million by killing him immediately he returned. They did as they planned. Having killed him and drank their wine, they discovered that he also in an ambition to own all the money had poisoned the drink. They all died without enjoying the money.
Men and brethren let us avoid this trap by living with a thankful and humble heart that is focused on God, His kingdom and righteousness. He knows how to add all other things to us as He promised. (Matthew 6:33). The temporary things of this world can never satisfy like God can. True, lasting contentment is found only through our relationship with Him.
The big question today is, which do you think more about, money or your relationship with God? Is God having highest priority in your life? If you are already in the web of desire for wealth, the Lord can set you free today as you repent and come back to him. Are you down because of your desire to make more money, put your hope in Christ today and He will lift you up. Have you made Jesus your Lord and personal Saviour? If not, turn your life to him today. He will save you. Let Him in.