Jesus said, “…lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:20 – 21). He in no way suggested that being poverty-stricken is spiritual, nor did He (contrary to the prevailing opinion of His day) imply that riches equal spirituality.
He was teaching that materialism, the belief that material possessions and physical comfort supersede moral and spiritual values, can pose significant challenges.
The problem with materialism is that it can so easily produce a skewed, inaccurate view of life. There is a true account of a wealthy lady who was robbed. She had stored all of her wealth in a strongbox which had been taken. The lady exclaimed, “My whole life was in that box!” Then there is the fictional account of a man in an automobile accident. His new Mercedes was totalled and his left arm was torn off. Standing looking at the wreck, he lamented, “My new Mercedes – my new Mercedes!” A man stopping to help said, “Friend, you have bigger problems than your car; your left arm has been torn off!” The man looked down to where his left arm used to be and immediately cried out in even greater despair, “My new Rolex – my new Rolex!”
It has been suggested that more people have been ruined by prosperity than by poverty. I’m not sure about that, but I have noticed that the Christian church, generally speaking, has had more success with the poor than the rich. Most have concluded that this is because the rich do not feel their need for God as acutely as the poor.
If you could find time to read 1 Timothy 6:6 – 10;17–19 I am confident you will find it informative and helpful. The first verse in this text is key and it says, “godliness with contentment is great gain.” The real matter boils down to two words – contentment and covetousness.
If I remember my physics class correctly, there is something called the law of impenetrability, which states that two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Such is the case with contentment and covetousness. If covetousness is present then contentment will be absent and if contentment is present then covetousness will be absent.
This is great news because contentment is based upon our relationship with God, not by material accumulation or lack thereof. This means that contentment can be found by rich, poor and all points in between. Incidentally, God does not make His judgments based upon our bank accounts, or lack thereof for we read in Proverbs 22:2 that, “The rich and poor meet together; the Lord is the maker of them all.”
I would like to close with two quotes…first, an ancient Roman proverb that says, “Money is like sea water; the more you drink the thirstier you get.” Second, G.K. Chesterton said,” There are two ways to get enough: One is to accumulate more and more, the other is to desire less.”