The Deceitfulness of Wealth

Neil Girrard

In explaining the parable of the sower, Jesus said, “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.”

Churchianity – that is, a group of largely like-minded (theologically speaking) people who seat themselves at the feet of their preferred teacher (“pastor”) to hear routine sermons (that produce little or no changed lives) inside a “church” building – is almost entirely a middle and upper class phenomenon. To be certain there are still some obscure fellowships among the poor of God’s people and it is among these that one can still find something of the real Spirit of God. For one thing, these poor fellowships can attract only those genuine shepherds who are not looking to fleece the flock! For another, poor people are (generally speaking) much more able to spot and step away from an insincere peddler of “God’s word.”

The way of following God – at least for some – has always been vulnerable to the deceptive influences of wealth. Were this not so, Jesus would not have sounded this warning in the foremost of His parables about the kingdom of God. But it is particularly true in these days of rampant lawlessness (most doing only what is right in their own eyes) that the way of Christ is perceived as truly belonging in the hands of the middle and upper classes. That is, it is deemed right and godly for a “pastor” to seek a lucrative career and build as big a following after himself as his eloquence and charisma can draw in. But what is right in men’s eyes is still most often an abomination in God’s eyes and a stench in His nostrils.

The whole foundation of worldly wealth is that of appearances and self-gratification. One must acquire wealth so as to demonstrate one’s abilities to be a “success.” Then one must use that wealth to please self and to prove to others his “successful” status (even though the person is really an emotional or spiritual basket-case!) The middle class emulates this aspect of the upper income classes and too often the result, even when vast sums are poured into charitable and philanthropic causes, is the gratification of self – not the meeting of real needs and the solving of real problems.

In churchianity, this translates into various expressions like taking one’s family on an exotic cruise or “vacation” and/or hoarding and collecting various worldly items while one’s brothers and sisters and neighbors struggle to find their daily bread or the means to share the gospel. Teachers of these kinds of “churches” basically denounce the poor as “judged of God” and proclaim that the “blessings of God” are really upon those who practice what one economic observed termed “conspicuous consumption.” The blind are never so blind as when they refuse to see. And indeed, these teachers and proponents of the gospel of wealth have much to lose if their listeners and followers ever grasp the truth of Christ’s gospel.

The gospel of the kingdom of God belongs to those who place no value whatsoever on the things of this world. The material things are simply tools to use for God’s purposes and not treasures to be clung to in one’s heart and certainly not a source of “security” to rely on in one’s day of trouble. If a brother needs a belonging (or the proceeds from selling it) more than we ourselves do, then, as God leads, let us be freed from the possession of this world’s things. There will be much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth on the last day when many will find that they hoarded treasures for themselves at the expense of building God’s kingdom.

God has always demanded that those who would be His must bear fruit, that is, bring forth things of benefit and supply for the kingdom of God. Those whose lives are completely void of fruit for God’s kingdom are taken to the fire and burned. Only those whose lives truly reproduce something of the nature and will and way of Christ and God are those who are truly in God’s kingdom. The rest is mere churchianity – the mouthing of words and the practice of vain rituals and human traditions that have an appearance of godliness but lack all true substance of God’s power – and this will, in the end, deposit its followers right back among those who perish.

Let he who has ears hear.

Matthew 13:22
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