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What the Bible says about Wealth, Pursuing
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Deuteronomy 17:17

After his prodigious wisdom, Solomon is best known for his colossal—seemingly astronomical—personal wealth. While riches are not evil in themselves, God admonishes the Israelite king not to "greatly multiply silver and gold" for himself (Deuteronomy 17:17). Beyond the greed factor, God gave this warning, not because He wants His rulers to be poor, but because of the effect amassing wealth has on the general populace. When a king gathers all of a nation's wealth to himself, the citizenry experiences acute financial oppression.

I Kings 10:14-25, 27 describes Solomon's nearly unbelievable wealth in detail. He was so wealthy that he "surpassed all the kings of the earth in riches" (verse 23). He generated an income of 666 talents of gold per year (verse 14), and "silver [was] as common in Jerusalem as stones, and . . . cedars as abundant as the sycamores which are in the lowland" (verse 27). He even charged a hefty, yearly set fee for anyone who desired to hear his wisdom (verse 25)! Money just seemed to pour into his coffers.

Obviously, much of this wealth came to him from trade and as gifts like that from the Queen of Sheba (verses 1-2, 10). However, he took advantage of his people to garner a great deal of wealth in the form of high taxes and using resident aliens as forced labor on public works projects (II Chronicles 2:17-18; 8:7-10). After he died, the people sent emissaries to his son Rehoboam to request a lightening of their work and tax burdens, but he rebuffed them, causing Israel's rebellion under Jeroboam (I Kings 12:1-20; II Chronicles 10). From the biblical perspective, amassing wealth like this is a terrible abuse of power.

Martin G. Collins
The Enduring Results of Compromise

Amos 5:10-11

Despite their pilgrimages and their love of religion (Amos 4:4-5), the Israelites' real focus was getting for themselves. Since it was more difficult to accumulate wealth and power lawfully, they built their empires on the backs of the weak and poor and persecuted those who insisted on doing business legally. God promises He will avenge them.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part One)

Matthew 6:20-21

Laying up—saving or storing—is not in itself sinful; Paul enjoins honest industry and wise enterprise (II Corinthians 12:14). If wealth comes our way, we should use it, not only for our ease and profit, but also for the good of others. Treasures on earth, if distributed for God's glory, become tools for laying up treasures in heaven.

It is natural for the human heart, mind, affection, and interest to be fixed on treasure. To regulate this fixation, it is important that the treasure be proper (Isaiah 55:2). We must be seeking the right goal—not physical riches but spiritually sound treasures in the form of deeds of kindness: good works (Luke 12:33) and the character formed by them (Revelation 14:13). Paul urges us to "be rich in good works" (I Timothy 6:18), partakers of "the unsearchable riches of Christ" and "the riches of His glory" (Ephesians 3:8, 16), and James advises us to be "rich in faith" (James 2:5).

The treasure of the converted is to be heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, to attain an incorruptible, undefiled inheritance that does not fade away. In the Kingdom of God, nothing corrupts, nothing dies away, and no enemies plunder or destroy (I Peter 1:4).

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Treasure

Matthew 13:7

The thorny ground represents those who are consumed by the cares and anxieties of this physical life and the deceitful enticements of wealth. The constant pressures of ordinary life—providing for our needs, education, employment, social duties, etc.—can be distracting, causing us to ignore God and Christian growth.

The desire for wealth magnifies this distraction (I Timothy 6:7-11). Wealth is enticing but never yields the expected rewards; it promises to make us happy but, when gained, does not. Further, in pursuing wealth, we are tempted to be dishonest, cheat, oppress, and take advantage of others.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Sower

Luke 12:13-31

In Luke 12:13-21, a listener in the crowd surrounding Jesus asks Him to instruct his brother to divide the inheritance due to him equitably. Jesus declines, saying that life should not be based on having many possessions. He uses this occasion to teach His disciples that a godly life is more important than material things. To explain this, He tells a parable about a rich man who builds larger and larger barns to store all his crops and goods.

Since he had everything he could possibly want or need, the rich man's focus was on living an easy life. God's response is that the man was foolish because, when he died later that night, his goods would do nothing for him. Someone else would inherit and enjoy them. A person whose life is caught up in what he owns is not rich toward God. The Parable of the Rich Fool illustrates Jesus' teaching to guard against every kind of covetousness.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Rich Fool

Luke 16:9

Jesus Himself interprets the parable for us. We ought to use spiritual wisdom just as shrewdly as the steward used his secular wisdom. He tells us we should "be wise as serpents and harmless as doves" (Matthew 10:16). "Unrighteousness mammon" signifies wealth or money gained by unrighteousness, that is, by sinful ways. Money becomes a power for evil in the hands of sinful people. James warns us not to make friends of those who are worldly and unconverted (James 4:4). We can make friends by means of money that the unconverted covet, thereby helping God to witness to them and eventually convert them.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Unjust Steward


 




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