Wealth and Vanity

I am sure you wish there were things that did not distract you, pulling you away from God. Once you have been walking with the Lord Jesus for a while, you quickly start to realize that the process of holiness making is actually very difficult … and this includes all Christians irrespective who we are, from the pastor to the council; from the seniors to the middle aged; from the young adults to the teens.

The reason is at least twofold. First, although we are a new creation, the old nature tends to linger; second, coupled this to the enemy’s persistent enticement to sin … makes the practice of pursuing holiness challenging at times and sometimes extremely difficult.

However, this must not cause us to drop our guard, relax our morals and adjust our ethics. Let us consider a few matters that caused Solomon’s downfall and be cautious it is not ours. These are things God spoke through Moses about a king and what the king should not do (Deut 17v14-20). Although Solomon started well, like so many, he did not continue well:

1Ki 11:9 The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel.

Wealth Was a Stumbling Block

King Solomon accumulated his wealth through commerce, trading, gifts he received, tribute money paid to him and heavy taxation. (Five talents of gold or silver would make you a multimillionaire by today’s standards.) Just to take one example of Solomon’s wealth …

1Ki 10:16 King Solomon made two hundred large shields of hammered gold; six hundred bekas of gold went into each shield. 17 He also made three hundred small shields of hammered gold, with three minas of gold in each shield. The king put them in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon. 18 Then the king made a great throne inlaid with ivory and overlaid with fine gold.

It seems as most of his wealth obtained ought to have been state money. Nevertheless, it does seem as though he lived in luxury by the way he decorated the palace. Yet God says in Deuteronomy 17:

Deut 17:17 … He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.

Here his downfall started … excessive wealth! Right here, for both political leaders, business people and ordinary citizens, including Christians, wealth could easily be their downfall. Take one example and this one is just one of the many injustices in the economic life of our country … State Capture. Many high profile names in our country (including foreigners and foreign companies) benefitted wrongly and criminally. Money drives some people crazy and they will go to great lengths to secure wealth illegally.

1 Tim 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

I have said on many occasions … “few people are able to handle wealth and riches”. As followers of Jesus we know we cannot take wealth with us to heaven. We leave earth with nothing and arrive in heaven with nothing, except the good works performed out of gratitude after salvation.

God does not begrudge us making money. He in fact gives some the ability to do so … but what we do with the wealth He enables us to make is important. Nowhere does God say you must live in poverty. Nowhere does he say you may not own a nice house, car and clothing. Nowhere does He say you can’t go to a restaurant or enjoy life.

But, He does say we are to be generous in our tithing and when He enables us to earn more or enjoy other financial rewards, He expects our generosity to increase as well. When we hoard money and or use it only for self-enjoyment or to be lavish like Solomon, money becomes an idol and we wander away from God, the Giver of all wealth.

Vanity Was a Stumbling Block

Mostly we associate vanity with a lady spending lots of time making up her face or a man constantly looking into the mirror to check his hair, yet vanity includes increasing assets to the point where one is puffed up as in pride as people give special attention to me.

1 Ki 10:22 The king had a fleet of trading ships at sea along with the ships of Hiram. Once every three years it returned, carrying gold, silver and ivory, and apes and baboons. 23 King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. 24 The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart. 25 Year after year, everyone who came brought a gift—articles of silver and gold, robes, weapons and spices, and horses and mules.

His (God-given) wisdom and his wealth brought him much fame … think of the Queen of Sheba and how he revealed his wealth and military power to her. Vanity! As God’s people we need to be particularly cautious here because everything we have and all we are is God given. In place of vanity and pride, we need to give all praise and glory to God for who we are, what we are able to do and what we have. Why … because the heart is deceitful!

Jer 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.”

Here is a question that requires a truthful answer in the face of the heart being deceitful … “Are you able to trust your heart?” Before you eagerly say “yes” … remember James and John wanting the most important seats in Jesus’ kingdom and Peter who denied Jesus three times!

We will continue this Note tomorrow, but for now let’s look at the flow of wealth (money and possessions) affecting my personal take on me as a person. Wealth could easily produce vanity. Vanity and pride are sin. The Psalmist says:

Ps 10:4 In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.

Where this refers to the non-believer, believers could easily be distracted by wealth producing vanity (pride) to the point where God does not feature in the thoughts, desires and plans. Solomon fell badly because part of the idol gods he followed were wealth and vanity (pride). As hard as it is for all of us, including myself, let’s try hard to invest more into the Kingdom of God because this investment is for eternity. Let’s make certain our church is supported and sustained properly. Let’s insure our church has evangelism and missions as a core supporting ministry. As we focus more on God, His reign, His Kingdom and His glory, the less we shall focus on ourselves. That is the best way to prevent making wealth and vanity (pride) idol gods in your life.

Dear God, thank You for everything You give me. You provide my every need. Please help me to return of what You give me to You through the local church so that Your work on earth may prosper for eternity’s sake. Amen.

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