Need Versus Greed
Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain. -- Proverbs 30: 7 – 9
These wonderful scriptures were written thousands of years ago, yet they apply to us today as much as back then. We are going to look more closely at the second request listed in these verses, namely, how God can meet our needs and not our greeds. We ask God that we be neither too poor nor too rich. Feed us only the food we require for life. If we have too much, we forget about God. If we have too little, we think about our needs instead of God.
Matthew chapter 6 has much to say about this subject.
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. -- Matthew 6: 19 – 21
Do not hoard material things on this earth, so you worry and have fear of losing them. Doubt will creep into your life. Lay up a treasure in heaven, for where your “treasure” is, there will your heart be also. The word “treasure” here is an orientalism denoting your “thoughts”. Are your thoughts on God, or on the things you own?
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. -- Matthew 6: 24
You cannot serve both God and “mammon” (riches, avarice, worldly gain, or excessive materialism). Do you think about your latest electronic gadget more than God? Do you have to have the latest gadget/car/TV although the one you are replacing is perfectly functional? If your material possessions are more important to you than God, there is a problem!
Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? -- Matthew 6: 25 - 26
We also should not be continually concerned with our physical needs. If we put God first, we do not have to worry about where our next meal is coming from. God feeds the birds, and He will certainly feed us too!
And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? -- Matthew 6: 28 – 30
Look at the flowers and how lovely they are, yet many of them bloom for only a short time. They are here today, then wilted and cut back tomorrow, yet God makes them so beautiful. If God can clothe the vegetation of the world so wonderfully, he can certainly clothe His children. To worry about food and raiment is unbelief on our part.
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. -- Matthew 6: 31 – 34
These last verses in the chapter sum it up well. They tell us that thinking and worrying about our needs all day is really unbelief. We do not trust God to provide for us when we worry about what we will eat, or what we will wear. Verse 33 says: Seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and you will surely get all the things that you need. This is a much better way to live, rather than worrying about everything.
If our physical needs to live, day to day life, are met by God, what else can we expect? For one thing, we can expect to gain wisdom by focusing on God and His Word. Wisdom is far greater and more powerful than any physical riches.
Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it. -- Proverbs 8: 10 – 11
Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver. -- Proverbs 8: 18 – 19
Proverbs 8 is about the wisdom we gain from seeking God and His Word. This wisdom is far greater than so-called earthly riches. With wisdom we can live a long and blessed life, without worry, fear, or doubt. Why does God point this out to us throughout the Bible?
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. -- Galatians 6: 7 – 9
We reap what we sow. If we sow to obtain temporary earthly riches, that is what we will reap, but we will also lose them. If we sow to the Spirit (seek God and His Word), we reap life everlasting.
The first book of Timothy has interesting things to teach us about earthly riches.
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. -- I Timothy 6: 6 – 8
If our needs are met, we should be blessed and we should be content. As the record in I Timothy continues:
But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root [system] of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. -- I Timothy 6: 9 – 10
Those who desire to be rich and have lots of ‘stuff’ fall into temptations and snares (traps!). Their lust will drown them in destruction and perdition, which is utter loss or ruin. The grass may look greener on that side of the fence, but in time you will see that it is worthless, unproductive, and self-destructive.
Note that verse 10 does not say that money is the root of all evil. Money is an inanimate object. It is the love of money that is the root of all evil. When that happens, money becomes an idol that replaces God as something to worship. If someone idolizes money, they will involve themselves in any method available to obtain it. However, they will bring great sorrow to themselves and to their family.
But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. -- I Timothy 6: 11
We are urged to flee or run away from idolatry. Instead, follow after or pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and meekness. These things won’t bring you sorrow and perdition.
If you DO have prosperity and abundance, remember that it is because you are blessed by God. Don’t let it go to your head. As Timothy continues in verse 17 -19:
Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. -- I Timothy 6: 17 - 19
We are exhorted not to be highminded, which is the opposite of humility. Nor are we to trust in uncertain riches. They are here today and gone tomorrow, and therefore are not trustworthy. Trust only in God, who gives us all things in abundance to enjoy. Instead of only being rich financially, it is better to be rich in good deeds according to God’s Word. This gives us our spiritual foundation for our eternal life.
Finally, remember the record of the young man in Matthew 19? He came to Jesus, claiming to have followed all the commandments all his life.
Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 19: 21 – 23
This young man thought he had followed God’s Word, yet when it came right down to it, he trusted in his possessions more than he trusted in God. We must strive to always keep material possessions in perspective. Put God first and we will always have our needs met. Then we can concentrate on God’s blessings and promises not only in this life, but in our future life after the second coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, -- Ephesians 3: 20