When Riches are a Curse

“Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions” (Matthew 19:21-22).

The problem is not possessions.

Americans have enjoyed riches beyond what most people around the world and throughout human history have only dreamed about.

The problem is not possessions.

The problem is when possessions possess us instead of us using possessions as an instrument and tool of blessing for the Kingdom of God.

In the context of the above verse, the young man claims that he has kept all the laws of God and Jesus never refutes that.

  • “You shall not murder”
  • “You shall not commit adultery”
  • “You shall not steal”
  • “You shall not bear false witness”
  • “Honor your father and mother”
  • “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”

That is astonishing! This is the picture of an ideal follower of God.

But notice what is missing from the list of the Ten Commandments:

  • “You shall have no other gods before me”
  • “You shall not make yourself an idol”
  • “You shall not make wrongful use of of the LORD your God”
  • “Observe the sabbath day and keep it holy”

The young man was an ideal citizen, but he was not a follower of God. His god, his idol was his possessions. When possessions dictate how you manage and use your possessions, possessions are your god. And, that was Jesus’ point.

When we get this wrong, possessions and riches become a curse rather than a blessing.

The issue is not possessions. The issue is does God get to call the shots in how you use possessions, or does possessions dictate how you give to God and God’s causes?

Friends, even in the midst of covid, the reality is we are more endowed with wealth than most people around the world dream of. During this season of Thanksgiving, are we able to lay our wealth and possessions before God so that God can use wealth and possessions for his Kingdom? Or does our wealth and possessions dictate how much and what we give to God?

The problem is not possessions. The issue has to do with the placement of wealth and possessions in relation to God.

Wealth and possessions are a blessing when we steward and manage all that God has entrusted to us for his purposes.

God has no problems with rich Christians. In fact, God wants his riches in the hands of those who will steward and manage God’s riches for his Kingdom. Let us be such people.

The first place this impacts is in tithing. Giving to God ten percent is a symbolic act that demonstrates riches do not possess us.

This is the season of Thanks. Let us give thanks to God for his many blessings.

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