Do you want to be rich?

But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
— 1 Timothy 6:9-10

Nowhere does Jesus condemn the rich for being rich. Nor does Paul. The problem is wanting to be rich. Not possessing wealth, but longing for it leads to trouble—big trouble—as we shall see.

Three things must be said about this passage.

Many Christians unthinkingly want to get rich, but be careful.

ONE It is written to Christians. The phrase wandered away from the faith is the tip-off. We normally think that wanting to be rich is primarily a trait of greedy non-believers. Not so says Paul.

Here’s an example of a poor family who wanted to be rich. A Christian couple in Denver sought counseling about their finances. Neither husband nor wife had jobs; they spent their days entering contests hoping for a windfall. Sometimes they won a bag of groceries or a few dollars from the lottery. One day driving down I-25 the husband suddenly pounded both fists on the steering wheel and shouted, “God! I wish I was rich!”

At least he was honest. Many Christians unthinkingly want to get rich, but be careful. This desire promises danger.

 

TWO The problem is not money but love of moneyphilarguria (love/silver). 

1 Timothy 3:2-3 lists qualifications for leadership in the Ephesian church, including “free from the love of money.”

 

THREE Christians don’t suddenly bolt from Christ—they wander little by little. It is more than merely “losing their religion.” In longing for riches, they play with dynamite—they pierce themselves with many griefs. Proverbs 28:20 agrees, “He who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished.”

Does this imply that you must live meagerly? Or take the minimum of your mission’s salary scale?”

The amount is not the issue. To pursue your Calling, you might need to earn more—to have enough money to do what God has called you to do. Great! But if your primary reason for a higher salary or nicer things is merely because you want to be rich, you will pierce yourself with many pangs.

Anglican Bishop J C Ryle said over 100 years ago, "We may love money without having it, just as we may have money without loving it."

Prayer: Creator of all, I don’t think I long to be rich, but perhaps I do. Please speak to me about my deepest motives and tell me if I am wandering from the faith. Guard my heart and help me to use money for Your purposes. I choose not to worship at the “Church of the Almighty Dollar.” Amen.