Based on 1 Timothy 6.
“The rich and poor meet together: the Lord is the maker of them all” (Prov. 22:2). The rich and poor of many cultures populate the countries of the world. The common people in some countries are quite satisfied when they have food and clothing. At the same time, people of the developed countries strive for increase and expansion. Many of those in North America live in the midst of affluence and wealth. The urge to continually upgrade homes and vehicles is evident. It is very easy to become accustomed to plenty and to use it for personal gratification. Farmers have the means to buy bigger and better farm equipment and, consequently, buy more land to justify the improvements. Those in business see opportunities to expand their businesses and make decisions to do so.
Many laborers who work for others earn a consistent living, enough to buy necessities and make payments on a modest home. They may have a family and want to experience things other families enjoy, though these luxuries may be out of reach. But they work hard and save until they can pay for them. Is it acceptable to improve our lives in this way?
Are we content, or are we dissatisfied with our place? We may know people who seem to have it made. They drive a newer vehicle, live in a better house, and take vacations we only dream of. If we become envious and allow dissatisfaction to bring us into discontentment, we become one of those who “would be rich.” When we allow this spirit of discontentment, we may recklessly make investments and purchases beyond our means, falling into snares that not only jeopardize our financial well-being, but threaten our spiritual welfare as well.
Our forefathers were very concerned with what the drive to gain earthly possessions could do. They saw what happened when the Mennonites in Holland became successful businessmen. They lost their spirit of nonresistance, trusting in the systems of the world instead of trusting God. They demanded educated ministers, built beautiful churches, and accepted musical instruments. Joachim Christian Jahring, a Lutheran pastor in East Friesland, wrote that the Mennonites in the area were engaged in trade that grew as large as opportunity provided.* The doctrine of the Anabaptist church had lost its importance, and they blended with the world.
As the Christian becomes financially successful, gaining wealth and honor, he is tempted to continue to use his opportunities to gain for himself. To assume that one can have the peace of God in his heart as well as enjoy the gain of successful investments is a peril. Paul’s advice to flee the love of money and its consequences is applicable to all, but especially to those who prosper.
When we remember that we do not own the things we handle, but are only stewards of them, we will share our possessions. If we claim ownership, we tend to make decisions that benefit us first. When the Lord has blessed us financially, we must pray for grace to remain simple stewards. Stewards ask the Lord where He wants them to use their resources. Whether we lose or gain will lose its importance.
Paul wrote to the Philippians, “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ” (Phil. 3:7). When we gain and consider it ours to use, our gain becomes a loss to the cause of Christ. May we be willing to do with less of this world’s goods and make our possessions available for God’s work. Christ looks for such to be workers in His kingdom. May our hearts be fixed on our Savior!
* Cornelius J. Dyck, “An Introduction to Mennonite History,” 3rd Edition, p. 162
From Adult and Youth Sunday School Lessons, April 8, 2018