Is Wealth a Blessing or a Curse?

Posted on by Dan Marlow


4 caution lights that can determine the answer...

It is widely presumed in Christian theology today that the economic condition of affluence is not a very good one for Christians to be in. It is widely presumed that this condition is almost inherently a bad one for hearing and responding with faith and integrity to the Gospel of Jesus. In my experience, wealthy people are almost invariably moved by their good fortune, and deeply troubled by it at the same time. They are looking for direction from the leadership in the church.

In his most recent book, The Virtue of Prosperity, American Enterprise Fellow Dinesh D’Souza quotes from an interview he conducted with influential Christian social theologian Michael Novak. “We are going to see a spiritual revival in this country, and it’s going to be led by rich people…In the past, people came to God because they were suffering, because they were broken. But increasingly, in the West, it’s going to be affluence that leads people to God.”

Whether that is true or not, wealth is a mixed blessing. John in one of his letters says, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”(1 John 2:15, NIV) Whether the wealthy become the leaders in evangelistic efforts will depend on their hearts.

I believe there are four, flashing, “Caution lights” that should warn us that we might indeed have gotten into an illicit love affair with the world and the things of the world.

Caution Light #1: We are falling in love with the world…when we are never quite satisfied with what we have.

Are you truly satisfied with what you have right now? If you never got anything more for the rest of your life would that be ok with you? Or, do you find yourself drawn to the newest technology gadget, a bigger or better car, another exotic travel destination, the latest fashion, a newer or bigger home, or another way to make more money. If “more” is descriptive of the way you think about the things of the world and the way you live in the world, Caution Light #1 is flashing an you may indeed be involved in an illicit love affair with the world that can destroy your pure and holy relationship to Jesus.

Caution Light #2: We are falling in love with the world…when the things we own end up owning us.

It is easy enough to get so emotionally attached to our things that we do not want to part with them or give them away. The greater our love for our things, the more tightly we grip them. The great holocaust survivor Corrie Ten Boom often spoke these words of wisdom, “Hold loosely to the thing of this life, so that if God requires them of you, it will be easy to let them go.” If you find that your things own and control you, Caution Light #2 is flashing and you may indeed be involved in an illicit love affair with the world that can destroy your pure and holy relationship to Jesus.

Caution Light #3: We are falling in love with the world…when worry about losing our things is disrupting our inner peace.

When retirement funds plummet, the values of our real estate are in a free fall and our business revenues are off substantially, we are tested as to whether we love the world. When times are good that does not even cross our mind. Being content when you have a lot is quite easy, but being content with less or much less than we have grown comfortable with can be very unsettling and reveal the actual depth of our affection for the things of this world.

If we were stripped of all our worldly possessions and stood penniless, would we still be content and filled with inner peace, confident that our loving Father is still on the throne and will never, ever forsake us? If you are struggling with a disquieted spirit as you worry over your “net worth” falling and our cash flow shrinking, Caution Light #3 is flashing and you may indeed be involved in an illicit love affair with the world that can destroy your pure and holy relationship to Jesus.

Caution Light #4: We are falling in love with the world…when our longing to be there is diminished by our affection for what we have here.

I am reminded of what Paul said in II Corinthians 5:8 (NIV), “prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” If you were given the choice today, would you prefer to go to be with the Lord or would you prefer to stay here? If you have nothing more than a casual interest in being there, Caution Light #4 is flashing and you may indeed be involved in an illicit love affair with the world that can destroy your pure and holly relationship to Jesus.

Being affluent is not wrong or bad. Paul begins his appeal to the Corinthian by declaring, “I am testing the genuineness of your love.” (2 Cor. 8:8, NIV) Paul continues his argument by shifting from the language of self-sacrifice to that of abundance. Paul promises God will bless them. The key is keeping our focus on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Keep your eyes peeled for the 4 cautions and maybe the rich will be the evangelist of today. 

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By Joe Sturniolo, 
Kardia Family Legacy & Estate Planning Services

Joe Sturniolo believes that stronger families are the vehicle God uses to bring about significant impact for His Kingdom. Sturniolo is an educator, author and speaker with a bold goal to maximize the ability of high-capacity Christians and their families to model Jesus’ love through better stewardship and increase their impact for Kingdom causes. Kardia’s unique process helps Christians and their families eliminate estate and capital gains taxes, pass on an appropriate inheritance to their heirs, maximize their giving to worthy Christian charities, create healthier family relationships and leave a lasting family legacy to impact God’s Kingdom while maintaining their present lifestyle. 

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