Potential Pitfalls of Profit, Prosperity, and Poverty

The possession of Riches

Dividing the pitfalls into the three categories of pursuit, possession, and absence of riches helps me frame the uniqueness of each.  For those that have wealth in this world (if you are reading this, you have wealth) there are particular pitfalls to be faced.  Wealth in this world is real, it can be felt and seen and tasted.  Nice cars, houses, positions, power, influence, these are all things that can be felt and experienced.  The Scriptures below speak to the temptation, danger, vanity, and tragedy that lurks within riches when they are abused and perverted.  Pay attention. 

1 Timothy 6

 17As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

James 5

 1Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. 2 Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. 3Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. 4Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. 5 You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.

Matthew 19

 16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said,  “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.


Ecclesiastes 5

 10He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. 11When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes? 12Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.

Each time I read in Ecclesiastes, “When goods increase, they increase who eat them..” I can’t help but think about the rap song from my high school days, Mo Money, Mo Problems, by Biggie Smalls.  Whether Biggie knew it or not, he was communicating the truth communicated through Solomon.  We all struggle to place our hope in God.  Whether our checks are big or small, our houses plush or lacking, our clothes new or tattered, our hope and trust wanders.  For those that have been blessed with greater material wealth than others, the temptations are all the greater as well.  I shared this story in our class as one of the many examples of how quickly riches can vanish.  But this is not new, Paul warned of the same above, “17As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” Set your hope on God.

Landon Vick


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