By William C. Sexton
Here are two sides of a problem. However, one side may never be recognized as a problem – that of riches. The common response, jokingly of course, is: “I’d like to have that kind of a problem for awhile.” Yet, seriously, if one has riches, he is responsible for the proper use of them. The other side, poverty, is not desirable either. One is likely to misbehave on either side, in either case.
First, if one has riches, he is tempted to be satisfied and see no real need for God. Yet, one has the need for God’s guidance, protection, and strength to be fair, just, and caring. The Scriptures warn against such:
1. In the Old Testament. To the children of Israel, Moses exhorted, when you come into the land and have “houses full of all good things, . . . wells digged, . . . vineyards and olive trees, . . .; then beware lest thou forget the Lord, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage” (Dent. 6:10-12). The key word here is “forget.”
2. In the New Testament. 1 Timothy 6:17, “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all thing to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” The key word here is “trust.”
3. The rich young man (Mk. 10:17-27; Matt. 19:16-22) seemingly wanted to serve God – However, when it came to a test of who or what came first, he chose money and went away sorrowful, “for he had great possessions.”
4. The “love of money” is the downfall of many a person. 1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
Secondly, if one is feeling the pain of being in poverty, he is tempted to be so dissatisfied that he fails to depend on God and truth him. All his time and effort is spent thinking about how unjustly he is treated, etc. Perhaps, he develops bitterness in his mind which eats away at him and manifests itself toward others in such a way that he harms himself and others, too.
Thus we see that neither riches nor poverty is the ideal state to be in. Responsibility is associated with each. The state of being in either, however, is not necessarily destructive. There is danger associated with each.
If one finds himself in poverty, then let them search for the reason and the key for getting out of that state with integrity, maintaining one’s relationship with God and his Son. If one finds himself with riches, instead of being puffed up, proud, uncaring, and self-sufficient, let him ask how he can use these riches to help others and benefit God’s people.
Beloved, we cannot escape the fact that we are responsible individuals, regardless of the state we are in, relative to riches and socio-economic status. We are responsible for using whatever goods that we are permitted to possess in this life.
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 9, pp. 259, 280
May 3, 1990