Riches are blessings from God to enable us enjoy a life of comfort and peace. God himself gives the knowledge to make wealth and teaches his people to profit. However, despite the goodness of wealth and its divine origin, people can misuse riches and wrongly place confidence in them. People can easily shift focus from the giver of riches to the gift itself. If we’re not careful, our wealth can take the place of God and become an idol. We shall examine Scripture to understand how people can place unjustified and underserved confidence in wealth, and thus make an idol out of riches, to their own destruction.
1 Timothy 6:17 As for the rich in this world, charge them not to be proud and arrogant and contemptuous of others, nor to set their hopes on uncertain riches, but on God, Who richly and ceaselessly provides us with everything for [our] enjoyment (AMP).
Riches have a way of making people feel proud and arrogant. They have a way of making their owners look down contemptuously on other less fortunate people. Wealth has a tendency to inspire confidence in itself. Even children of God who got rich through God’s blessings and favour stand the risk of gradually shifting confidence and trust from the God who enabled them to be wealthy, to their own abilities and ultimately to their riches. It is an ever-present danger rich people face. Wealth can easily become a snare to their owners and take the place of God in their lives. Unless we specially guard against it, money has a ready tendency to become an idol, and the owners its worshippers!
Deuteronomy 8:6 Observe the commands of the LORD your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him.
Deuteronomy 8:7 For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land —a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills;
Deuteronomy 8:8 a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey;
Deuteronomy 8:9 a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.
Deuteronomy 8:10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.
Deuteronomy 8:11 Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day.
Deuteronomy 8:12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down,
Deuteronomy 8:13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied,
Deuteronomy 8:14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
Deuteronomy 8:15 He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock.
Deuteronomy 8:16 He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you.
Deuteronomy 8:17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.”
Deuteronomy 8:18 But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.
Deuteronomy 8:19 If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed.
Deuteronomy 8:20 Like the nations the LORD destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the LORD your God (NIV).
Riches cannot be trusted because they’re uncertain. True riches are God-dependent blessings. To maintain them, we need to continually depend on, and trust in God. We need God to make wealth, and we need him even more to preserve and maintain the wealth. Turning our back on God after becoming prosperous is simply undermining the foundation of our wealth. It’s sabotaging our own prosperity. That was exactly the warning Moses gave Israel in his parting address in the book of Deuteronomy. God can quickly withdraw his blessings if we stop trusting in him and start trusting in ourselves or in the blessings. King Uzziah is a perfect example of those who rely on God to prosper, and then get lifted up with pride and kick against the God of their prosperity, in a self-destructive effort. His story is an example for all to learn from and take heed! We cannot contend with our Maker and win!
2 Chronicles 26:3 Uzziah was sixteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jecoliah of Jerusalem.
2 Chronicles 26:4 And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done.
2 Chronicles 26:5 He set himself to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God, and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him prosper.
2 Chronicles 26:7 God helped him against the Philistines and against the Arabians who lived in Gurbaal and against the Meunites.
2 Chronicles 26:8 The Ammonites paid tribute to Uzziah, and his fame spread even to the border of Egypt, for he became very strong.
2 Chronicles 26:15 In Jerusalem he made engines, invented by skillful men, to be on the towers and the corners, to shoot arrows and great stones. And his fame spread far, for he was marvelously helped, till he was strong.
2 Chronicles 26:16 But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the LORD his God and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense (ESV).
It’s worth remembering that riches can develop wings and fly away. Disaster can strike the richest of the rich and reverse their fortunes overnight. The richest man can become the poorest in a twinkle of an eye. We saw that in the life of Job. In less than 24 hours, Job, the richest man in the East in his time, suddenly found himself among the poorest of the poor. In just one stroke of God-sanctioned satanic attack, Job’s wealthy empire collapsed and crumbled to pieces, like a pack of cards! Let him that thinks he stands take heed, lest he fall!
Job 1:1 There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.
Job 1:3 He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east.
Job 1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.
Job 1:7 The LORD said to Satan, From where have you come? Satan answered the LORD and said, From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.
Job 1:8 And the LORD said to Satan, Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?
Job 1:9 Then Satan answered the LORD and said, Does Job fear God for no reason?
Job 1:10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.
Job 1:11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.
Job 1:12 And the LORD said to Satan, Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand. So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.
Job 1:13 Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house,
Job 1:14 and there came a messenger to Job and said, The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them,
Job 1:15 and the Sabeans fell upon them and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.
Job 1:16 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.
Job 1:17 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, The Chaldeans formed three groups and made a raid on the camels and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.
Job 1:18 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house,
Job 1:19 and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you.
Job 1:20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped.
Job 1:21 And he said, Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD (ESV).
Proverbs 23:5 Your money can be gone in a flash, as if it had grown wings and flown away like an eagle (GNT).
Those who trust in riches, and not in the God who gives riches, shall be thoroughly disappointed. When they least expect it, their wealth will develop wings and fly away. The man who makes wealth his confidence shall find it most untrustworthy. The same God who orchestrated his rise to riches is capable of masterminding his catastrophic fall from the pinnacle of wealth. To preserve the wealth that God has given you, you need to hold tight to God! When your riches increase, you need to increase your faith and trust in God! You need more of God as you grow more prosperous, not less. The higher you climb in fame and fortune, the more enemies you make, and the more you need God to protect, preserve and keep you from the forces of darkness lining up to pull you down! Only God’s hedge around you and around your properties can keep Satan and his destructive hordes at bay. See how Satan struck with venomous fury, when God permitted his hedge of protection around Job to be temporarily removed! Run deeper into God the more he blesses you, for that is the only way to secure, preserve and grow your riches.
Proverbs 11:28 He who leans on, trusts in, and is confident in his riches shall fall, but the [uncompromisingly] righteous shall flourish like a green bough (AMP).
Psalms 52:5 But God will break you down forever; he will snatch and tear you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living. Selah
Psalms 52:6 The righteous shall see and fear, and shall laugh at him, saying,
Psalms 52:7 See the man who would not make God his refuge, but trusted in the abundance of his riches and sought refuge in his own destruction! (ESV).
Psalms 62:10 Put no trust in extortion; set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, set not your heart on them (ESV).
In conclusion, let’s hear a parable from the Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, about how dangerous it can be to put confidence in one’s wealth. If we take heed to the warning embedded in this parable, we will safeguard our soul from the danger of trusting in uncertain riches. He who has ears, let him hear!
Luke 12:16 And he told them a parable, saying, The land of a rich man produced plentifully,
Luke 12:17 and he thought to himself, What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?
Luke 12:18 And he said, I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.
Luke 12:19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.
Luke 12:20 But God said to him, Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?
Luke 12:21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God (ESV).