But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Judging by the wealth of many Christians, most of us seem eager to take a hard risk: 'And again I say to you, 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).
We focus on a few Bible Verses about prosperity, but take we Them out of context--specifically the context of Jesus Christ. He chose to model a humble life. In contrast, He gave us opposing examples, including the Story of the Rich Young Ruler and the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.*
On the other Hand (God's), we find Joseph of Arimathea, the exception: the man who traveled successfully through the eye of the needle of wealth. Significantly, he is mentioned in all four Gospels:
He is described as a 'Rich man' (Matthew 27:57); 'A prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God' (Mark 15:43); 'A good and just man. He had not consented to their decision and deed' (Luke 23:50-51); 'A disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews' (John 19:38).
Are prosperous Christians 'safe' if they tithe, if they are generous? Because the scribes and Pharisees followed the Letter of God's Law, and Jesus condemned them mightily.** I think God's eye of the needle exceptions to the temptation of wealth hinge on what we love most:
God or money? Did our wealth chase us down... or did we chase it down? Because we can't chase both Christ and cash. 'No man can serve two masters' (Matthew 6:24). We must show the proof of our first love: 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me' (Matthew 25:40).
Actors, models and talent for Christ: Don't chase man's version of success, including big riches and big roles. Perfect your craft while Jesus perfects you. 'Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have' (Hebrews 13:5).
To serve Jesus, to fulfill your destiny, to do what you love, to be with those you love--especially the One you love most... this is true wealth. Accept no other version.
To Be Continued...
* The Story of the Rich Young Ruler: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+19%3A16-26&version=NKJV
* Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+16:19-31
** The Chapter of condemnation: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=MAtthew+23&version=NKJV
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Christian Pitfalls series.