Overcome the deceitfulness of wealth by learning to enjoy your wealth and possessions, being content whatever your circumstances—whether needy or wealthy, hungry or well fed, living in want or in plenty.
“When God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them . . . —this is a gift of God.” (Ecclesiastes 5:19)
In our selfish short-sightedness, we pray for wealth and possessions. Heavenly Father, give me that car! Give me that house! Give me that fancy cruise!
But we forget to pray for a far more important gift from God—“the ability to enjoy them.” (Ecclesiastes 5:19, emphasis added).
At the age of 63, I especially pray for this gift from God as I analyze whether I have enough wealth and possessions to retire.
If you listen to the financial gurus, you’ll never “have enough.” But remember—those financial gurus usually get richer the more of your wealth that you invest with them. So, if you tell them your 401(k) has $1,000,000, expect them to show you fancy financial analysis “proving” that you need more, much more! That way, they can earn much more money from you!
Jesus told us the story of a man who followed such flawed advice. This man is generally referred to as The Rich Fool! So you can guess where this story is going!
The Rich Fool was a farmer. He was already a “rich man.” (Luke 12:16). Then he had another good year. His farm “yielded an abundant harvest.” (Luke 12:16).
Did this rich man think of how he could help other people with his additional wealth? No! The only thing on his mind was getting even richer. “He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’” (Luke 12:17).
Even now, he didn’t think of how he could bless the lives of other people with his good fortune. The only thing on his mind was staying even richer. “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.’” (Luke 12:18).
The Rich Fool sought security by having more wealth. He would not even begin to enjoy his wealth and possessions, until some unspecified date in the future when he had enough “surplus grain.”
Indeed, despite his greater wealth, the Rich Fool would have to work even harder! Why? He would be building bigger barns!
The Rich Fool said that after he had enough “surplus grain” safely stored, then “I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’”
I’ve got news for you. I’ve known plenty of Rich Fools. They’ll never have enough. They’ll always need one more abundant harvest. They’ll always need to build bigger barns. They’ll never actually take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.
Even if they do eventually try to take life easy (despite their selfish short-sightedness), they’ll only see how to spend their wealth on themselves. After a lifetime of foolishly seeking security in their wealth and possessions, they’re not going to share their wealth and possessions to bless the lives of others.
In their selfish short-sightedness, Rich Fools allow the “deceitfulness of wealth” to keep them from achieving wisdom. (See Matthew 13:22; Mark 4:19).
They never gain enough wisdom to enjoy their wealth and possessions.
They never gain the wisdom of the Apostle Paul who wrote: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” (Philippians 4:11).
How did Paul learn such wisdom? He had been needy. He had been wealthy. But whether he was well fed or hungry; whether he was living in plenty or in want, he “learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” (Philippians 4:12).
And what is this secret of being content in any and every situation? How do we avoid being a Rich Fool? We can do all this through the LORD God who gives us strength! (Philippians 4:13).
We can do all this by practicing in our lives the discipline of the Way of Jesus. We can do all this by heeding this warning of Jesus: “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist of an abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15).
Do not be greedy. Do not seek to find meaning for your life in the pursuit of wealth and possessions. That is the Way of the Rich Fool.
Instead, follow the Way of Jesus.
- Be content with however much—or however little—you have. (Philippians 4:11–13).
- Enjoy whatever wealth and possessions God gives you. (Ecclesiastes 5:19).
- Share your wealth and possessions.
- Help the weak.
- Remember always these words of Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35).
This blog is based on pages 195-198 of my book, Hoping in the LORD.