Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone.
–Proverbs 23:5 (NIV)
In Ecclesiastes 5, Solomon said hoarding money can rob us of present joy. But money can also rob us of eternal life. Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24). Jesus was not saying that riches in and of themselves are sinful. But if we become too attached to money, it can choke out our spiritual lives. English evangelist John Wesley reportedly told his sister, “I throw [money] out of my hands as soon as possible, lest it should find a way into my heart.” Wesley also said if he had more than ten pounds in his possession at his death, people could call him a robber.
You might think that is a little extreme, but Wesley understood how easy it is for money to grab hold of our hearts. It was the love of money that caused the rich young ruler to turn away from Christ (Matthew 19). It was the love of money that caused Judas to betray Jesus (Matthew 26). It was the love of money that caused Ananias and Sapphira to lie to the Holy Spirit and be struck down dead (Acts 5). Paul said it this way in 1 Timothy 6:10: “The love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” It is easy for money to become a god in our lives.
Another problem with money is that it can easily be lost. Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 5:14, “When those riches were lost through a bad investment and he had fathered a son, then there was nothing to support him.” Talk about futility: to work and sacrifice to put aside money only to see it disappear through a bad investment, a get-rich-quick scheme, or a lawsuit–or simply to spend it all. Proverbs 23:5 says, “Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle” (NIV). Have you ever seen your money vanish like that? That is the futility of money.
There is a final problem with money, and it is perhaps the most important one for us to remember: money is only temporal. Look at Ecclesiastes 5:15-16: “As he had come naked from his mother’s womb, so he will return as he came. He will take nothing from the fruit of his labor that he can carry in his hand. This also is a grievous evil–exactly as a man is born, thus will he die. So what is the advantage to him who toils for the wind?” Put another way, God allows no U-Hauls in heaven. You and I are going to leave it all behind.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Money Madness” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.
John Wesley, as quoted in Rev. L. Tyerman, “The Life and Times of the Rev. John Wesley, M.A., Founder of the Methodists,” vol. 2, 2nd ed. (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1872), 590; Wesley, “An Earnest Appeal to Men of Reason and Religion,” 6th ed. (Bristol, UK: William Pine, 1765), 45-46.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.