WEALTH – A POTENTIAL ENEMY
Scripture clearly states that people who long to be rich fall into all sorts of temptations and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that drag them down and destroy them. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some Christians, who longed for wealth, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:9-10) I would propose that the love of money is not only the ruin of an individual but that it is especially the ruination of corporate America. The evil found in capitalism comes from the greed of aristocrats and from their oppression of the lower classes. Eventually the evil of capitalism will drive the oppressed to seek refuge in socialism; and the goal of socialism is to replace God with government. But please understand, wealth itself is not the problem; and all wealthy people are not disobedient before God. The problem is our attitude toward wealth and what it causes us to do in order to obtain wealth. Even a poor person, who longs to be rich, can fall into all sorts of temptations and desires that will drag them down and destroy them.
Scripture reveals that one of the greatest evils coming from our desire for wealth is when we exploit others in our quest for money. This is especially true in corporate America. With the industrial revolution came the birth of American corporations and the reality of expanded worker exploitation. During the 19th century, and even into the early 20th century, greedy industrialists built factories where large numbers of people were forced to work under inhuman conditions. All that mattered to these capitalist money-mongers was profit; profit gained through poor working conditions, child labor, low wages, no overtime, no benefits, no health and safety regulations, no worker compensation and by indenturing people to the company store. These were dark and evil times for the working person; and these were times most Americans thought were permanently eliminated by our government. Greedy capitalists did not change because they felt sorry for the worker; they changed because socialist elements in the government forced them to. But, that too has changed! Believe it or not, the ugly specter of capitalistic greed now haunts America, and the rich are once again seeking to enslave the American worker. Which is exactly what the socialist want to see happen. This evil desire for wealth will drive the capitalist to continue exploiting the worker until the worker rebels and the socialist step in to save the worker; and, the government becomes a person’s source of succor and security.
It would be far better to live under capitalism than socialism if it were not for the greed of the capitalists. In the past few decades, Americans have lost many of the worker rights and benefits won for them by their grandfathers and great grandfathers. And, it is getting worse. It is an economic fact that, since World War II, there has never been a worse recovery for jobs and worker pay than what has been experienced in the last 3 years; yet, during the same period corporate profits have sored like never before. Since the recovery officially began in June 2009, almost 90% of U.S. growth has gone to corporate profits, and at the same time wages, salaries and benefits have actually dropped for the working person. We also need to add to these statistics the fact that less that 20% of the people in America possess over 80% of the wealth in America. When you look more closely, you will discover that a mere 1% of Americans hold over 43% of the financial wealth in America. America is rushing toward a rich verses poor situation that rivals France, just before the French Revolution in 1789. The desire for wealth has fueled a movement that, if left unchecked, will destroy America. A time will come, and may already be here, when a rich aristocrat seeking elected office will no longer find support among the masses. As the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer there is no way the working man will vote for a capitalist; this is an injustice God will not ignore.
Once again we need to be reminded that just because a person is wealthy it does not mean they are evil. The desire for wealth transcends all social, racial, religious, gender and cultural boundaries. The danger in being a wealthy person comes from the inevitability of wealth to spawn a malignant desire for even more wealth. Then, there is also the fact that being wealthy means you are privileged and if you are privileged you have a tendency to view things from a worldly perspective. If you view things from a worldly perspective you could find yourself losing your Christian perspective. You could even find yourself bonding with your upper class brothers, which probably means you will lose any affinity you had for the working poor. You might even find yourself exploiting the working class; after all, that is a common practice amongst the aristocratic minded. If you are an upper class American it does not mean you are evil but it certainly means you are in a position to lose contact with the classes below you. And, as you distance yourself from the other classes you risk distancing yourself from God.
Please understand, I am not claiming all wealthy people take advantage of the lower classes; but I am saying that it seems to be a natural characteristic of the wealthy. The desire to accumulate wealth will blind a person to the reality of what they are doing. Probably the most grievous sin comes when the process of obtaining wealth results in our ignoring the plight of those we are gaining wealth from. For example, you have just purchase an item for less than half its true value because the individual selling the item is in desperate need for money … this is a grievous sin. Perhaps you have just sold something for far more than it is really worth because a person did not know the true value of the item; this too is a grievous sin. You might consider yourself a shrewd business person, because of your profitable dealings; but God considers you an oppressor of the poor and ignorant.
It is no different for those who hire people to work for them and then take advantage of their need for employment. The rich employer needs to take into consideration that they should never take advantage of poor and destitute laborers. They must pay them their full wages when these wages are due because they are poor and are counting on it. If you don’t, the labor might cry out to the Lord against you, and it would be counted against you as sin. (Deuteronomy 24:14-15) Then when God draws near to you for judgment this will be a judgment against you. (Malachi 3:5) God said that untold sorrow awaited Jehoiakim because he was unjust in his dealings with those who served him. (Jeremiah 22:13) So you see it is not wealth itself that could separate a person from God; it is your attitude toward that wealth.
CONCLUSION – WHAT AWAITS THE LOVER OF MONEY
Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God! (Matthew 19:23-24) Jesus did not say it was impossible for a rich person to get into heaven, but He certainly pointed out that it won’t be easy. It is not that God has anything against wealth; wealth is irrelevant. But, based on scripture, it is quite evident Jesus fully understood the existence of a strong bond between wealth and Satan. Jesus’ teachings reveal a hidden danger in wealth, which comes from the difficultly of both obtaining wealth and dying to self-interests at the same time. After all, wealth doesn’t generally just drop in your lap; you got to work and struggle for it. Your motivation, that which makes you do what you do to get money, is what can condemn a person seeking wealth. When a person, rich or poor, is in love with money they have opened the door for all kinds of evil to enter their life. This craving for money can even cause a good Christian to wandered from the true faith and make themselves and enemy of God. (1 Timothy 6:10) Jesus knew just how treacherous wealth can be and that is probably why he warned us that we profit nothing if we gain the whole world but lose our soul. (Matthew 16:26)
Every person having or desiring wealthy should examine their life to see exactly what it is they have given up or will sacrifice in order to obtain wealth. If wealth was obtained at the expense of their own sweat and discomfort that is good; but, if wealth came by exploiting the weakness of others or by taking advantage of unjust circumstances it is a sin. I suppose that is why Jesus told rich people that they had best enjoy the happiness they now have because sorrow awaits them tomorrow. (Luke 6:24) If a person cannot escape their love of money they would be far better off getting rid of their wealth. It is stupid to end up in hell because you stored up treasures here on earth, where your wealth is so temporary. It is far better to store treasures in heaven, where it will last for all eternity. Jesus told us this because He knows that wherever our treasure is, there the desires of our heart will also be. (Matthew 6:19-20) A person who falls under the temptation for acquiring wealth needs to closely evaluate their true relationship with God.
God will not ignore a person’s love for wealth and the self-centered attitude of those who desire money. It does not matter if it is a billionaire industrialist exploiting those who work for him or a small-time used car dealer cheating people in order to make a buck. A fearful punishment, at the hand of God, awaits those whose desire for wealth has blinded them to the self-centeredness found in their attitude and actions. They should weep and groan with anguish because of all the terrible troubles ahead. Their wealth is rotting away, and their fine clothes are moth-eaten rags. Their gold and silver have become worthless. The very wealth they were counting on will eat away their flesh like fire. This treasure they have accumulated will stand as evidence against them on the Day of Judgment. For listen! Hear the cries of the oppressed whom you have cheated of their pay. The wages you held back cry out against you. The cries of those who worked for you have reached the ears of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. You have spent your years on earth in luxury, satisfying your every desire. In reality, you have fattened yourselves for the day of slaughter. You have condemned and killed the spirit of innocent people, people who have done you no wrong. (James 5:1-6) It does not matter if your wealth came through questionable business dealings or the exploitation of the worker, you stand guilty before God. It is not your wealth that condemns you … you are condemned because you refused to die to self-interests: to die to your love of money. Poor simpleton; you just could not understand that it is impossible to desire wealth and obey Jesus at the same time; for no person can serve two masters. (Matthew 6:24)