“I wish I had read your book, Love & Money, in the 70’s and early 80’s (of course, well before it was published),” says writer Stephen Griffith. “In particular, if only I’d known “The Five Dangers of Riches” you describe in the book, I may have avoided some problems or at least remembered the truth when things became difficult.”
Stephen shared how earlier in his career he had experienced a few good years and looking back, he saw that the success made him susceptible to the five dangers. Like so many of us, he had found how easy it is for Christ-followers to superimpose our faith over our existing value system – a system that has been largely dictated by our culture.
We simply accept the prevailing attitudes about money as truth. In other words, we’re snookered in by a subtle deception.
Christ-followers are particularly vulnerable to these five dangerous attitudes about money. Are you?
Danger #1: Riches create a false sense of security
Financial footing is a good thing, but therein lies in an illusion of control. Financial independence may lead you to feel independent from God. The reality is that everything you have is from Him (1 Corinthians 4:7). You are never less secure when you think you can work independently from God, even when you give him mere perfunctory credit for your riches.
Danger #2: Riches can deceive you about God’s provision
“God has blessed me financially. I must be completely in His will.” Possessions have become one of the world’s most treasured standards of success. Have you mistakenly adopted a Christianized version of that principle that says your riches are a measure of God’s blessings and provision for you?
Danger #3: Riches can falsely elevate your sense of self-worth
“He who dies with the most toys wins.” It’s easy to buy into the world’s prevailing thought that your worth as a person rests in your accumulation of wealth. The prophet Jeremiah reminds us our true worth does not lie in our finances – nor in our wisdom or physical abilities for that matter – but in the fact that God knows us and deems us to have value.
Danger #4: Riches can tempt you
Do you ever feel overwhelmed or distracted by your responsibilities? Managing your job, maintaining your home, balancing checkbook, servicing your cars, making decisions about your 401 K plan … the more you have, the more time and energy you need to maintain it all. God calls you to steward well what you have. But be careful. Riches can tempt you away from generosity and towards protecting what you have and even wanting more, rather than investing in people and in His Word. “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21, ESV).
Danger #5: Riches can confuse simplicity and faith
The older you get, the more you may desire a simple, hassle-free life – a lifestyle has a legitimate scriptural basis. But examine your motives. Riches may allow you to simplify your life, but to what end – to eliminate walking in faith or to free you from serving God and serving others? Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6), no matter how simple of a lifestyle you lead.
As you seek to manage your finances well, you may not even have considered the hazards you may face.
“If only I’d known the dangers …”
Now you do. What will you do with them?