HOW TO BE TRULY WEALTHY
I Timothy 6:9,10 says, “Those who desire to be rich; fall into temptation and snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love money is the root of all kinds of evil for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” The word of God does not condemn the possession of riches which have, in reality, no moral character, for they are only evil when they are badly used. Money, in and of itself is not a root of evil; it is the love of money or greediness that is a root of all kinds of evil. Money is a medium of exchange, and all must have a sufficient amount to buy food, clothing and shelter. Neither does the Bible say anything of wealthy people per se, for God did not condemn Abraham, Joseph of Arimathea, Job, Gaius, Mary and Martha, sisters of Lazarus, and all these people were wealthy people. It is the love of money that leads to dishonesty, greediness, selfishness, immorality and other forms of wrongdoing that are condemned. Moreover wealth is not necessary for a life of godly contentment, and it has great moral and social risks. Those who make wealth their life pursuit fall into many temptations and many foolish and hurtful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. That is, it wrecks the body accompanied by the ruin of the immortal soul.
Frst, it is a little surprising what some wealthy people have to say about riches. John D. Rockefeller Jr. said, “The poorest man I know is the man who has nothing but money.” Some one asked John D. Rockefeller Sr., “How much money does it take to satisfy a man?” His answer was, “Just a little bit more than he has, ” That implies money is powerless to satisfy those who waste their life acquiring and hoarding it. William Jennings Bryan said, “Those who live for money spend the first half of their lives getting all they can from everybody else and the last half trying to keep everybody else from getting what they have from them, and they find no pleasure in either half.” Nauru is a small island country in the west-central Pacific ocean. About four fifths of Nauru is covered with thick deposits of phosphates(World Book Encyclopedia). With abundant natural resources and rich fishing waters, Nauru was a rich source of phosphates. Nauru provided its citizens with a comfortable peaceful life, but one day a chemist studying a piece of wood from the island, discovered it to be from an area rich in phosphates, which is used extensively in fertilizers. The government set about mining this phosphate rock and soon became exceedingly rich from its export. The newly rich nation became wealthy consumers, and the people of Nauru became quite rich in the process. They stocked their houses with every kind of high-tech household gadgets. Even though this island had only one road, most families bought two or more cars. They were rolling in money. The government began importing large amounts of food from other countries and made it available to the people at very low prices. But today, 90% of people on the island are obese, and diabetes and heart disease rates have skyrocketed. The government badly mismanaged its wealth, and now the island of Nauru is in serious debt. Irresponsible mining practices have devastated the island's habitat and natural beauty, and phosphate stores have run out, Once a place of beauty and comfortable living, it has been ravaged by greed and is a little speck of heaven no longer(Reader's Digest, May 1997, pp. 87-91). What happened on that island reminds us of a serious crisis that has happened in the first decade of the twenty first century in America. . It is called the panic of 08. I see a kind of dangerous parallel to our lifestyle in America in this true story of what happened to the little country of Nauru. What caused the terrible financial crisis that hit America in September, 2008? Now I most certainly am no economic expert and have no claim to such knowledge. However, I have been listening carefully to the greatest economic experts in our country seeking the answer to the cause of our problem. The only answers I have heard are the greediness of the stock market and the illicit loans made by the executives of our banks and lending institutions to unqualified buyers. Why would lenders loan money to unqualified buyers? The answer apparently is they saw a great opportunity to get rich. The high priced housing market was too great a temptation to turn down. Interest rates were high and the possibilities for wealthy were out of sight. But it turned out for them just like the Bible says in I Timothy 6:9,10, “Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful desires which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil...” The word “snare” in this passage means a trap, used to catch and entangle wild animals. High executives in the stock market and lending institutions have been caught in a trap, and their only hope is that someone will bail them out and set them free from catastrophic financial losses. Let us all hope that what happened to Nauru will not happen to America.
The Bible gives us another valuable lesson on the danger of riches by the affects they had on Solomon the King of Israel. He was the wisest and richest man who ever lived up to that time in the world. He had more money and more possessions than any person who had ever lived. He enjoyed more pleasure and more women than any man who ever lived. He had a thousand wives and all the possessions that this world could afford. One of the books in the Bible is Ecclesiastes written by Solomon, and it is the saddest and most pessimistic book in the entire Bible. Solomon was one of the richest, most powerful men who ever lived, and he lived during a time of unprecedented prosperity. Yet he was hopelessly bored and disgusted with life. King Solomon had everything the heart could desire, and he had it in abundance, but he was not a happy man. Prosperity and abundance often lead to misplaced priorities, boredom and apathy. Comedian Joan Rivers was joking when she said, “People say money is not the key to happiness, but I have always figured that if you have enough money you can have a key made.” That is the philosophy of many people. Solomon had enough money, but he never boutht the key to happiness. Happiness, like love, cannot be bought. Money is the article which may be used as a universal passport to everywhere except heaven and the universal provider of everything except happiness. It brings us food, but not an appetite; medicine but not health; acquaintances but not friends; servants but not loyalties; days of joy, but not lasting peace and joy. In saying these things I do not mean to say that being wealthy is wrong. God does not forbid Christians to become millionaires. Christians have a right to make all the money they can, if they make it honestly. We can earn all we can, save all we can and give all we can. There are Christians who have lots of money, and they made it honestly. If this be so why does God give such solemn warnings about being rich. Our text says, “For we brought nothing into the world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil...” The true danger of wealth is revealed here. It is near impossible to strive to be rich and not be tempted to indulge in wrongdoing, evil and sinful conduct. It is extremely difficult to strive to be rich and yet be an honest person. Dishonesty is the master temptation in striving for wealth. We are in danger of getting caught in a snare or trap of wrongdoing, and few who get caught in this trap seldom ever get out of it. .The idea is that people who strive to become rich as the goal of life, get so entangled in their love for more money they cannot easily escape. They become so involved in their desires that they cannot break away from them. The apostle goes on to say that the desire to become rich caused some Christians in the first century to fall a way from the Christian religion in their greediness and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. The teaching of the Bible is that whatever desirability and blessing there is in having lots of money, yet wealth will not make anyone truly happy.
If money is not the answer to happiness, then what is? The Bible reveals that there is a way to be truly happy. Do we want to spend our lives striving after something that is not going to satisfy us? According to the Bible the answer is given in I Timothy 6:11,12, “But you O man of God, flee these things and pursue godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called, and have confessed the good confession before many witnesses.” The key words in this passage are, “Lay hold on eternal life.” People who have laid hold on eternal life are the richest and happiest people on earth. No one could be richer or wealthier. But how do we lay hold of eternal life? Let me explain it this way. A young man asked an old rich man how he made his money. The old guy fingered his smooth wool vest and said, “Well, son, it was in 1932, the depth of the great depression. I was down to my last nickel. I invested that nickel in an apple. I spent the entire day polishing that apple, and at the end of the day, I sold that apple for ten cents. The next morning I invested those ten cents in two apples. I spent the entire day polishing them and sold them at 5:00 p.m. for 20 cents. I continued this system for a month, and by the end of the month I'd accumulated a fortune of $l.37. Then my wife's father died and left us two million dollars.” Now you know the secret to getting rich–CHOOSE THE RIGHT ANCESTORS. That is one of the most profound proverbial sayings I have come on to in a long time. He revealed to that young man one of the easiest and fastest ways to become a millionaire on earth is to have wealthy ancestors.. That is indisputable; you can't beat it. His wife's father had millions which she inherited, and the husband too became millionaire by marriage. One way to become wealthy is to marry into wealth or inherit wealth in some other way. Choose the right relatives. However, I must add that the likelihood of a young man or woman becoming rich by this method is about as likely as winning the lottery. The only other way to honestly become wealthy is by hard, hard work and long hours. We have to plan our lives wisely, choose a profession that is productive early in life, stay with you choice, stay with your work plan , work harder, pull yourself up by your own bootstraps and put your nose to the grindstone. But according to many rich men and women if you succeed in gaining wealth, it will not bring you true happiness.
Finally, the Bible reveals there is a way to be truly happy and truly wealthy not only in this present world but also in that new world which is to come after this present world passes away with a great noise and is melted and destroyed with fervent heat. As strange as it may sound, the advice of that old man gave to the young man on how to become rich in this world is good advice for you and me and anyone else who hopes to make it heaven and be eternally rich. You remember his advice was : “CHOOSE THE RIGHT ANCESTORS. That is an absolute essential to go to heaven. I would suggest to you this same advice is valuable to all people who hope to make it heaven and be rich forever. The one and only way you and I or any one else can lay hold on eternal life and make it into heaven is to choose the right ancestors. You might understandably say, “I don't understand your reasoning or what my ancestors have to do with my getting to heaven. You might say, “Who are these relatives we must have to go to heaven? There are three ancestors everyone must have to come into possession of eternal life in heaven that the one true God of heaven and earth offers to the human race. In the first place, we must have one special earthly father, one heavenly father, and one special brother who is both heavenly and earthly. Let me explain this to you. Consider what I say and the Lord give you understanding. THE EARTHLY FATHER OF WHOM ALL MUST BE A DESCENDANT IS ABRAHAM, A MAN OF THE HEBREW RACE. God never promised eternal life to anyone on earth except the descendants of Abraham. God made two primary promises to Abraham. In Genesis 12:1-3 God made the promise to Abraham that He would make of him a great nation of the Hebrew nation, and this was Israel to whom He gave the Ten Commandment law. The second promise was that God would bless all nations of the earth in some way through Abraham's descendants. This blessing was eternal life for both Jews and Gentiles through Jesus Christ, a descendant of Abraham. . The greatest descendant Abraham ever had was Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah of the Jews and the Savior of the world. God carried out the promise to bless all families of the earth, both Jews and Gentiles, by Jesus Christ who established one religion on earth for all nations-- to the Jews first and also all nations. This is the only promise of heaven that the human race has. The authority for this great truth is verified in the New Testament. Galatians 3:29 says, “If you are Christ's then you are Abraham's seed and heirs of according to the promise.” All to be saved must be an heir to the promise of Abraham. This means people of all nations can inherit the promise of eternal life made to Abraham by becoming Christians and in no other way. Jews who are not Christians are not heirs of the promise of eternal life made to Abraham. This aspect of going to heaven is vital to all nations, for all nations who reject Christ and His religion are shut out of heaven. In a sense Abraham is the earthly father of the human race. Paul said Abraham is the father of us all. No one but the descendants of Abraham can go to heaven. Eternal life for mankind was a plan that was made with the one man Abraham, and it was fulfilled through Jesus Christ His famous descendant who died for the sins of all mankind. God's plan was written and certified by an oath God made to Abraham. It cannot be changed. However, to be a descendant of Abraham is not enough; one must also be a Christian. God will accept no other religion. In a sense Abraham is the father of all nations and the father of us all, so far as eternal life is concerned. Gentiles become children of Abraham by adoption and by faith in Christ. One had to be circumcised to be in God's family. Christ changed the law of circumcision and replaced it with the law of water baptism. Colossians 2:11 says to Gentile Christians, “In Christ you were circumcised with he circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism in which you were also were raised up with Him through faith in the working of God who raised Him from from the dead.”
Another ancestor all who would be heirs of eternal life must choosr is the heavenly Father Jehovah the God revealed in the Bible. TheGod of the Bible must be yourGod or you will never go to heaven. The Bible says that Christians are the children of God, and if children then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ(Romans 8:16,17) We must be in the family of God, the church Jesus purchased with His blood to be an heir of salvation. Christians are children of God by adoption not by nature. God is our relative and more than a relative; He is our Father. Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father who is in heaven...” Jehovah is our heavenly Father in whom we live, move and have our being. The other wealthy ancestor that people must choose to have any hope of going to heaven lis a wonderful brother, and Jesus Christ has revealed that He is not ashamed to be called our brother.(Hebrews 2:11). He was one of us, but He was Divine as well as human. The second person of the Godhead dwelled in His physical huan body. He was a Deity, both God man. He lived, died and rose again, and after we have lived and died, we too will rise again, thanks to Him. What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear. But even more what a brother we have in Christ. If you are a Christian you are the brother of a king. We are related to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. And this is true even though our material assets and ways of making a living might not show it. We may be only a carpenter, mechanic, school teacher, preacher, printer or bus driver. We might be having a hard time paying our bills, and we may be thought by the community not to amount to very much. However the scriptures say that ordinary human beings, when they put on Christ by being baptized into Him become children of God the Father by faith. As Jesus is God's Son, when we become children of God we become brothers and sisters to Christ. . Say to yourself, “I am a prince, a brother of the King,” or “I am a princess, a sister of the King.” Let us therefor conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of sons and daughters of Jehovah God, our Father and Jesus Christ the Divine King and our Elder Brother. Now you know the secret of getting rich here and forever-- CHOOSE THE RIGHT ANCESTORS.