“Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.” (Matthew 13:22 NKJV).
It is God’s perfect will for His children to be rich, wealthy, successful and prosperous in life. God is the One who gives His children the power and wisdom to get wealth (Deut. 8:18).
God takes pleasure in the success, progress and prosperity of His children, not in their failure, frustration, defeat, stagnation, and poverty.
The Scripture affirms this truth.
27 Let them shout for joy and be glad, Who favor my righteous cause; And let them say continually, “Let the LORD be magnified, Who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.” (NKJV).
22 The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it.” (NKJV).
It is nothing wrong, sinful or improper for born-again believers to have material possessions, resources or money in abundance. God desires that His children have abundance for every good work.
King David testifies to this truth.
1 Chronicles 29:
16 O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have prepared to build You a house for Your holy name is from Your hand, and is all Your own. (NKJV).
Apostle Paul also testifies to this truth.
2 Corinthians 9:
8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” (NKJV).
However, the Scripture warns us to beware of the deceitfulness of riches because it can dampen or smoulder our love, passion or zeal for God.
The love of God in the hearts of the Laodicea believers was put out or extinguished by the deceitfulness of riches resulting in them becoming lukewarm – neither cold nor hot.
The Lord sharply rebuked them for their lukewarmness.
15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.
16 “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.
17 “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ –and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked– (NKJV).
In the Parable of the Sower, the Lord Jesus teaches that the deceitfulness of riches can choke the Word of God in our hearts and thus make us unfruitful.
The Lord Jesus explains, “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.” (Matt. 13:22 NKJV).
Therefore, it is wisdom for us to seek to know how riches deceive and how to guard our hearts against the deceitfulness of riches, or against being deceived by riches and abundance of material possessions.
Let us examine what the Scripture has to say about this!
First, the Scripture warns that riches have a propensity to make us proud, boastful or haughty.
It is so easy to regard or view your riches as simply the fruit or result of your expertise, wisdom, diligence, hard work or personal effort, and then scorn, despise and regard the poor as slothful, unwise and unserious.
Solomon writes, “The poor man uses entreaties, but the rich answers roughly.” (Prov. 18:23 NKJV).
“The rich man is wise in his own eyes, but the poor who has understanding searches him out.” (Prov. 28:11 NKJV).
Therefore, Paul instructed Timothy to warn the rich believers against pride, haughtiness, and confidence in riches.
1 Timothy 6:
17 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.
18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,
19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. (NKJV).
Many believers today who are rich in material possessions have fallen into the trap or snare of riches by arrogantly attributing their riches only to their diligence, self-righteousness and good works, and by looking down on their poor brethren, regarding them as being slothful, unrighteous or ungodly.
There is a natural tendency for a rich pastor of a mega church in the city to regard himself as more anointed, gifted, and spiritual than his fellow poor pastor of a small congregation in a remote village.
It is deceitfulness of riches to measure or judge your spiritual maturity, gifting, anointing, holiness, or faithfulness by your riches, wealth, or material possessions.
It is deceitfulness of riches for the believers to see themselves as the proud owners of God’s resources entrusted to their care, thereby failing to see themselves as God’s stewards.
A true steward has nothing to boast about or show off, for he is not the real owner of the resources under his care or at his disposal. It is indeed foolishness and ignorance for any man to brag or boast about his riches or wealth.
Paul queries, “For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (1 Cor. 4:7 NKJV).
How do you guard you heart against the deceitfulness of riches to puff you up, make you arrogant and to become self-conceited?
By acknowledging and walking in the understanding that you are not the real owner of things that you possess, but rather a mere steward of God’s resources.
This truth will keep you humble and in check!
A wise steward is primarily concerned about how to faithfully manage, invest, dispense or distribute his master’s resources according to his master’s instructions.
It is only a foolish and unfaithful steward who goes about boasting about and showing off his master’s riches, and consuming or lavishing it upon his own lusts.
When you go about bragging or boasting about your material possessions, you have been deceived by riches and you are simply demonstrating your ignorance, foolishness and unfaithfulness in stewardship (1 Cor. 4:1, 1 Pet. 4:10, 1 Tim. 6:17-19).
God is the Creator and Owner of the earth with all its wealth!
The Scripture states, “The earth is the Lord’s, with all its wealth; the world and all the people living in it.” (Psa. 24:1 BBE).
You brought nothing into this world, and so you own nothing!
The Scripture states, “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” (1 Tim. 6:7 NKJV).
Why then are you boasting as though you are the owner of the things you have?
Second, riches have a propensity to enslave you and usurp the place of God in your heart.
It is natural and so easy to seek after gold rather than God; after riches rather than righteousness; after wealth rather than the Word of God.
Riches have a tendency to rule, dominate and control your thoughts and actions. When you allow the love of riches to influence, dominate, direct or drive your life; you have fallen into the trap or snare of riches.
When your mind or affection is set on riches, you have fallen into the trap of riches. When your delight, trust or confidence is placed in your material possessions, you have been deceived and ensnared by riches.
This is why Paul warns the believers who are rich in the things of this world not “to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.” (1 Tim. 6:17 NKJV).
How do you guard you heart against the deceitfulness of riches to enslave you or displace God in your heart?
By renewing your mind according to the truths of God’s Word!
By setting your mind or affection on things above and not on things on the earth!
By understanding God’s purpose of blessing you with riches!
By choosing to be a faithful steward of God’s resources in your care!
The Psalmist admonishes, “Do not trust in oppression, nor vainly hope in robbery; if riches increase, do not set your heart on them.” (Psa. 62:10 NKJV).
Paul also admonishes, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Col. 3:1-2 NKJV).
Prayer: My Dear Holy Spirit, teach and help me daily to guard my heart against the deceitfulness of riches, in Jesus’ name. Amen.