Spiritual pitfalls of chasing financial security
God is not against wealth. Many great men of God were very wealthy; King David, King Solomon, Job, and Abraham. But God does not want us to spend our mental and physical energies chasing money in the name of “financial security”. That is when we place more faith in money than in God. God’s Word warns us to be wise enough to resist the worldly allure of money and not to wear ourselves out trying to gain wealth.
Proverbs 23:4 ESV Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist.
Our Heavenly Father knows all about and pays close attention to our needs. The verses in Matthew 6:25-34 are a wonderful reminder of His faithful promises to provide for us. When we genuinely delight in Him, He promises He will give us the desires of our hearts.
Matthew 6:25-34 ESV “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Psalm 37:3-4 ESV Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Our part is to be satisfied with what God has provided. This does not mean we have an excuse to be complacent or lazy. Our Heavenly Father delights when we are diligent in glorifying Him in whatever work we do – whether in financial wealth or need.
Hebrews 13:5 ESV Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Colossians 3:23 ESV Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,
Chasing senseless and harmful desires
As incredible as it may sound, God’s Word reminds us to be content with having just the very basics, such as food and clothing, rather than financial abundance, because we can’t bring anything with us to heaven.
1 Timothy 6:6-8 ESV But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.
Jesus brings this point vividly to life by describing a wealthy man who did some clever financial planning so that he could kick back and relax, only to die that very night. The man was only rich towards himself and not towards God, and God called him a fool.
Luke 12:18-21 ESV And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
Yet we hear completely different worldly “truths” growing up. The world constantly bombards us with messages about what we “need” and “must have” in order to feel secure or satisfied.
As a result, we are drawn into “many senseless and harmful desires” that ruin the joyful, care-free, abundant life that Jesus died to give us. We find that we are never content with what we have. We just desire more and more money. We never really feel secure or satisfied. Sadly, God points out that such cravings will lead some of us to wander away from the faith and pierce ourselves with many painful, meaningless sorrows.
Ecclesiastes 5:10 ESV He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.
1 Timothy 6:9-11 ESV But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
Envying the wealthy
Additionally, God’s Word warns us not to envy the wealthy, particularly those who have no regard for God. All wealth can be destroyed and made worthless in an instant. Let us be careful not to place our faith in money. Only our relationship with God will last forever. That is where our true security lies.
Psalm 73:3-6,16-19 ESV For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek. They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind. Therefore pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment. But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors!
Matthew 16:26 ESV For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
Yet again, the world tells us a different story. The media obsessively follows the lifestyles of the rich and famous as if they hold the “truth” about genuine prosperity and happiness. These are tantalising but false “teachings”.
The Bible states that it is impossible to serve both God ‘s desires and our financial desires. We will either love money and hate God, or vice versa.
Matthew 6:24 ESV 24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
The idea of hating God by chasing money seems overstated, but our affections will always reveal what we treasure in our hearts.
Matthew 6:21 ESV For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Here are some reasons the world chases money and financial security over God.
- Fear | “I am anxious about the future and see money as a form of security… (because I don’t believe God is good and will take care of my or my family’s needs).” | Jeremiah 17:7-8 ESV “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
- Envy | “I want to also own what others have… (because what God has given me is not enough for me).” | Luke 12:15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
- Lust for power | “I like the power that money gives me to control others… (I don’t care if God loves them and treasures every individual).” | Matthew 22:39 ESV … You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
- Pride | “I use money to show off that I’m smarter than others… (even though all that I have comes as a blessing from God that He desires me to bless others with).” | Deuteronomy 8:18 ESV You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth…
- Revenge | “I have been hurt by people and see money as a way to make them regret their behaviour and honour me… (even though God calls me to forgive and love them).” | Romans 12:19 ESV Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
Choose the better Master
Money becomes our “master” when we allow it to rule our hearts, time and energy. As we chase after money in the name of financial security, our desires can become more and more self-centred and we will find it hard to love God wholeheartedly.
Let us, therefore, be careful to check our hearts more often than we check our bank accounts – and study God’s Word for His guidance on money matters. This is not meant to curb our lives. Rather, God wants to free us from the deceitfulness of chasing riches, which will only keep us striving, fearful, anxious and discontented. We can trust God to take care of all our present and future needs. He is the only true Security of all riches.
Matthew 13:22 ESV … the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.
Philippians 4:19 ESV And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
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