Would you like to be rich? A great many people would answer “Yes!” to this question without a moment’s hesitation. To some, riches are the ultimate goal in life because they are the ticket to all of the things people enjoy – fine food, designer clothing, spacious homes, hot cars, vacations, and all the toys that go with the “good life”.
Getting rich is a mania with us. How else do we account for the success of the lottery, the TV game shows or the fixation with the lifestyles of the rich and famous? At this point I’m not really speaking of those who dabble in gambling or the money games. What I am here concerned with is the unabashed striving for wealth for its own sake. I think of a young man I once knew whose goal after finishing college was to begin making $85,000 a year in sales. This is the love of money in its most obvious form.
There are all sorts of arguments for why having wealth is a good idea. For one, “Just think how much happier I would be and how much better off my family would be. We could do all those little extras that make such a difference.” Or how about, “If I had money, I could be generous in my contributions to charitable organizations.” The truth of the matter, however, is that wealth doesn’t usually either free us from unhappiness, nor truly raise the quality of life, nor give us the motivation for generosity. In fact, it oftentimes does just the opposite.
Let me insert a small disclaimer before I go on. There is no natural virtue in poverty either. As Tevye says in “Fiddler on the Roof,” “It’s no shame to be poor; but it’s not great honor either!” The answer to the problem of riches is not to do away with them completely, but in the seeking of something that is of real value. As Jesus said, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33).
I have known one or two godly individuals with wealth. The Bible plainly says that type of person is rare. Those people will tell you that their knowledge of God has come not because of there money, but rather I spite of it. It is probably their greatest source of temptation.
If not wealth, what should we desire? As Proverbs 30:8 tells us, “Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.” Jesus bids us pray likewise in the Lord’s prayer, “…give us this day our daily bread…” We are to ask for enough to maintain a lifestyle that allows us to joyfully serve Christ with every ounce of strength we possess. When God answers this prayer either with the basic essentials, or with a bit of surplus as well, we can be content because our hope is not in money, but in the motto printed on our money – “In God we Trust”.