Let’s face it — most people want to get rich. That has consequences I witnessed both firsthand and on a larger scale.
Mike, a close friend, became consumed by a desire to get rich. He finally abandoned his wife and four young sons, and later denied Christ.
Government-sanctioned lotteries and all types of gambling are sweeping our nation. Sadly, there are hundreds of thousands of compulsive gamblers who, in an attempt to get rich quickly, regularly deplete their family income. Their stories are heartbreaking.
For much of my life I, too, wanted to become rich. Not just a little rich, but filthy rich!
I’ll never forget how surprised I was the first time I realized the Bible’s caution against it: “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction”(1 Timothy 6:9). This verse declares that those who want to get rich give in to temptations and desires that ultimately lead to ruin. Wanting to get rich is incredibly dangerous, but why?
The next verse answers that question: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:10).
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
–1 Timothy 6:10
When We want to get rich, we actually love money.
Dealing with this attitude in my own heart has been difficult. Here’s what I discovered: When I wanted to get rich, my motivations were pride, greed, or an unhealthy urge to prepare for uncertain economic times.
I loved money. However, after I learned God’s perspective, my motive completely changed. I wanted to be a faithful steward, wisely investing the money God entrusted to me. I simply wanted to please Him. I loved God…
Is it wrong, then, to become rich? No, that’s not what I’m saying here.
Many heroes of the faith, such as Job, Abraham and David, were rich. In fact, I rejoice when God enables a person who has been a faithful steward to prosper. Nothing is wrong with becoming wealthy if it is a byproduct of being faithful.
How then, can a believer in Christ overcome the love of money and the desire to become rich? Let me put it in two words: split and submit.
Paul told Timothy to “flee from [the desire to get rich], you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness”(1 Timothy 6:11). When you become aware of a desire to get rich, run from it!
You might begin by analyzing just what it is that triggers your desire.
I discovered a habit of dreaming about wealth when I would take a long car trip. I broke the habit by listening to Christian radio and music to help me concentrate on the Lord instead.
The ultimate way of escape is submitting to the Lord. We can do this confidently because Jesus overcame a huge temptation to become rich. After fasting for 40 days, He was tempted three times by the devil. Here’s the final temptation: “[the devil] led [Jesus] up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, ‘I will give You all this domain and its glory . . . if You worship before me’” (Luke 4:5-7).
Jesus was offered all the kingdoms of the world in an instant. Because of His complete submission to God the Father, He was empowered by the same Holy Spirit who lives in us to resist that temptation.
But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.
–1 Timothy 6:11
I believe that our heavenly Father does not usually allow His children to prosper when they are motivated to get rich. Wanting to get rich—loving money—closely parallels greed. And “. . . greed . . . amounts to idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). It is for our sake that the Father protects us from loving anything that would draw us away from Him.
I firmly believe we need to make a commitment never to participate in gambling or lotteries, even just for entertainment. We should not expose ourselves to the risk of becoming compulsive gamblers, nor should we support an industry that enslaves so many. We should never work or participate in anything motivated by the desire to be rich.
As men and women who serve a holy God, we are called to be salt and light to a lost world.