Take care lest you forget the LORD your God… when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
Moses’ warning to the people of Israel here is just as relevant today as it was three thousand years ago. As the people of Israel were crossing from the wilderness into a land flowing with milk and honey, God’s warning to them was crystal clear. Be on guard, he told them, against the deceitfulness of riches and the blindness of prosperity which numbs you to your spiritual need. Materialism works like amnesia, making you forget who you are, where you’ve come from, and most importantly, who has brought you there. All too often, the result of God’s blessing in our lives is just like it was to the Israelites: “all that you have is multiplied, and then your heart is lifted up and you forget the LORD your God.”
No wonder, then, that Jesus said it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. With our lives full of modern ease and convenience, most of us are far richer than Jesus’ disciples could have dreamed. The warnings of Moses and Jesus, then, should ring in our ears, and we would do well to pay attention. But God is gracious and has not left us without help. Jesus gives us both a warning against the deceitfulness of riches, and the remedy to its lies. Just as he told the rich young man, he told his disciples, “Sell your possessions and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail.” Jesus reorients our worldview and our values around himself and around others. Generosity is of greater value than wealth, and there is more joy found in servanthood than in what money can buy. Our calling is to be like the Macedonians in 2 Corinthians 8, who demonstrated the surpassing value of treasuring Christ when, “in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty overflowed in a wealth of generosity.” This abundance of joy, even in the midst of trying circumstances, put Christ on display as the true Treasure of their hearts. When Christ is more valuable to us than gold, our lives will start to look the same.
Holy Spirit, Exalt Jesus in my heart. Give me eyes to see His beauty, a mind to comprehend His magnificence, and a soft heart to be captured by His infinite worth. Dethrone the idols of materialism, prosperity, ease, and comfort from my heart, and rule in their place. Free me from the deceitfulness of riches, so that with abundance of joy I can demonstrate with my possessions that Christ is supremely valuable to me.
This post is written by Brendan Beale, author of Cross Connections