The Foolishness of Riches

3366720659_b746789dfd*this was originally a topic I shared recently with the local church here in Guatemala. The study blessed me –especially as I thought of the insignificance of life here in comparison to a life eternal. It was also challenging as I think about moving home to the United States and the materialistic traps that are there. This write up is an expanded and edited form of my topic notes and outline –and thus will read a bit choppy. You will have to make effort to look up the scripture references underlined. As an experiment, I tried using English notes to teach a Spanish message and found it much easier to keep my train of thought moving along smoothly. It also helped by pushing me to talk ‘from the top of my head’ about my train of thought instead of getting stuck on the words of my notes.

Luke 16:19-31

This is the story of a rich man and a poor man. The rich man had everything he wanted. Every day he would dress himself in fine clothes and eat a splendid banquet. He had everything that he needed. But the poor man was sick and sat at the gate of the rich man hoping to eat even just the scraps from the rich man’s table.

Then they both died. The poor man went to a place of comfort and peace. But the rich man went to a place of torment.

This is a sad story –and I use it as my introduction ask a question. Why did the rich man go to a place of torment? What is interesting about this story is that they are really two rich men in this story. We have the ‘rich man’ that is mentioned –but we also have Abraham, who also was a very rich man in his time. If both men were very rich –why did one go to a place of torment and the other to a place of comfort?

Mark 10:23-25

It is hard for those who trust in riches to enter into the Kingdom of God. It is like a camel trying to go through the eye of a needle!

Why is it that it is so hard for someone with wealth to enter the Kingdom of God? Is it sin to be rich? If men such as Abraham, Job, and David were blessed with riches –what can be wrong with them?

If we explore the Bible we find various problems with riches.

I. The Problems of Riches

A. Riches are a problem because they absorb interest and occupy our time

1. When we have lots of money and lots of possession, we have to spend time thinking about how to use it –how to earn more with it –and how to protect it. It absorbs a lot of our energy.

2. Riches do not satisfy. The more we have, the more we want. (Ecclesiastes 5.10)

B. Riches are a problem because they are deceitful

1. While explaining the meaning of a parable, Jesus mentioned that riches are deceitful. (Mark 4.19)

2. Riches promise much, but in the end don’t offer much in return

a. Possessions rust and can be destroyed and robbers steal them ( Matthew 6.19)

b. Riches cannot buy any type of salvation (Psalms 49:6-9)

c. Riches deceive us into thinking that we don’t need God (Luke 12:19)

C. Riches are a problem because they cultivate pride

1. The children of Israel had a problem with pride because of their possessions (Deuteronomy 8.11-17)

2. This pride led to the destruction and captivity of Israel.

3. When we are proud about our riches we forget to seek God (Psalms 10.4)

D. Riches are a problem because they makes us selfish

1. This was likely the problem with the rich man in the story of the Rich man and Lazarus. He was in a position to help the poor man Lazarus –but he was selfish and ignored him.

Luke 12:16-21

In reading this parable we can see these problems coming out in this man’s life…

– His riches absorbed his interest and time (17,18)

– We see that he was deceived into thinking he needed no one else and that he was proud (19)

– He wanted to store all his grain. He was selfish. We read nothing of him wishing to give some to the poor.

II. What can we learn so that we don’t fall in the same trap as these men ?

A. We Must Learn That Love of Possessions is Folly

1. Why should we seek to make ourselves rich if it causes so many problems?

2. It is folly because our lives do not consist of riches (Luke 12:15)

3. It is folly because the love of riches is idolatry (Ephesians 5.5)

4. It is not wrong to be rich –but it is wrong to desire to become rich.

a. Those who Desire riches fall into temptation (1 Timothy 6.9)

b. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil and causes men to lose their faith and causes many sorrows (1 Timothy 6.10)

B. We Must Learn Contentment

1. Someone who has real riches is someone who knows God and is content (1 Timothy 6.6)

2. We can cultivate contentment in our lives by having the right perspective(1 Timothy 6.7-8)

1. We can cultivate contentment by remember that we arrived in the world with nothing and we will leave with nothing.

2. We can cultivate contentment by remembering that we need only two things to be content a) food b) clothing

III. Putting Our Lives in Perspective

Let us think of perspective. For an illustration let’s take the universe. We can’t really comprehend how large the universe actually is –but we know the universe is around us and that it exists.

Nothing in the universe travels faster than the speed of light. Light travels 299,792 kilometers per second. Even so, it takes light 8.3 minutes to arrive at the earth. This means that the sun is roughly

149,000 kilometers away from the earth.

But the next closest star is much, much farther away. Let’s imagine that we could travel at the speed of light. This is impossible –if anyone traveled this speed it would cause a lot of problems and he would be dead. But, imagining that we are traveling at the speed of light, it would take roughly four and a half years to arrive at the next closest star! This star is more or less:

40,653,234,201,600 kilometers from us.

To travel that distance we would need to travel from the earth to the sun and back 136,000 times.

The earth is in a galaxy and we are on the edge of one side. If we could travel at the speed of light, it would take 81,500 years to reach the opposite side of our very own galaxy.

We can see much, much farther than this with our eyes. The farthest object that we can see with our eyes without any help is very, very far away. If we were to travel to this point, it would take us

2,540,000 years

With telescopes and other tools, we can even farther. If we could travel to the farthest point that we know exists in space, if we traveled at the speed of light –we would have to travel

15,000,000,000 years

Now, let us return our thoughts to perspective. Eternal life. Eternal life does not end in 15,000,000,000 years. To travel to the farthest edges of space, I would have to live

150,000,000 life times of 100 years each.

Eternity is much bigger than that. Much bigger.

The Bible tells us in Mark 8.35 that to gain the real life of eternity, we must lose our lives here on earth

Mark 8.35

This means that we must give up our lives to the control and direction of Christ here on earth. We must choose to lose the pleasures and riches of this world to follow Christ. But when we think in perspective about eternal life and our lives now –it seems foolish that we should even think of holding on to the world. Can’t we give just 1 of our 150 million lives to Christ?

We must also realize that everyone will exist in eternity. I hope that each one of you will be with God for eternity. But likely, some of you will be spending eternity in a place of torment. This tiny life of ours is a life of choice. We can choose eternity with God or we can choose eternal separation from God with no hope of a future.

Luke 12:20,21

Those possessions that fooled this rich man into thinking that he was something, were the same riches that fooled the rich man in the story of Lazarus –and they are the same riches that try to fool us today. Riches on this earth have little value –and, in fact, are very dangerous. Our riches exist in heaven.

Ephesians 3.8

Christ is the provider of true riches. Do you have those unsearchable riches of Christ?