Jump Start # 2973
1 Timothy 6:9 “But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.”
Have you noticed a subtle vice that has been repackaged, glamorized and brought into our homes? It’s gambling. Sports betting is a common commercial on TV. It lures the innocent into thinking you can make some easy and quick money. There was a time, long ago, when gambling was only associated with Vegas. Then our communities got river boat gambling. But now, one can’t watch a sports game on TV without former superstars pitching the fun of betting on a game.
In my area, gambling and horse racing go hand-in-hand. I went to my first horse races this summer. The place was packed and money was flying at the gambling booths. I decided I was going to try some imaginary picking of a horse for each race. We had racing forms which were so complicated that one needs an engineering degree to figure them out. But I went with the sure winners. They didn’t win. I started picking horses that “looked” like winners. Nope. Then I looked at their past races. Went with the best. Everyone one I picked lost. Finally, I went with the names of the horses. I picked cool names. Lost. I never won a single race. And, had I been putting money on the table, I’d gone home losing a ton of money. Gambling makes the gambling houses rich.
I don’t know if Paul had gambling in mind with our passage, but it is driven at the spirit of “those who want to get rich.” It is hard to find any verse in the Bible that is packed with more negatives than this single sentence. Just look at the words:
Seven powerful warnings about the heart that wants to get rich. This verse naturally flows into the next passage where Paul adds, “The love of money is a root of all sorts of evil.” Wanting to get rich and love of money seem to mirror each other. We want the value of our homes to increase. We put money into our 401s with the hopes that they grow and someday we can retire. There is no virtue in being broke. There is no life in living paycheck to paycheck. That is just one emergency away from a major disaster.
Throughout Scriptures we read of the wealthy Job, the rich Abraham and Joseph of Arimathea, who was wealthy. Yet with these names we do not read our seven words from our verse today. Ruin is not associated with Abraham. Foolish and snare are not the words we’d use to describe blameless Job. Joseph didn’t plunge into dangerous waters because of his wealth.
Our passage today is looking at an attitude. Some who want to get rich, never do. Many chase all kinds of fads, schemes and rabbits to find quick success, but it generally fails. Gambling, especially the lottery, is nothing more than a carrot that dangles in front of those who want to get rich. You won’t read any financial planning book that advocates gambling or the lottery as a tool to reach your goals. You won’t hear Dave Ramsey pushing gambling on his radio broadcast.
The context our passage is found in ends with specific instructions towards the rich. They are to be rich in good works, generous and ready to share.
Now, here are some thoughts:
First, study finance. It’s not that hard. Too many do not understand some simple principles as budgeting, compounding, and investing. I see what many do as if they are wearing a blind fold and trying to throw darts at a target. Most likely, they’ll miss by a mile. My fellow preachers and shepherds need to have this discussion. Far, far too many preachers are a mess financially. They know Greek, history, and the Bible, but they are clueless when it comes to money. And, as happens much too often, they in late life become a burden to the church or worse, they leave their family in a financial mess because they have not planned and taken care of basics such as insurance.
Second, have a goal. We do that with education. A college student doesn’t flip through the college catalog and just pick out classes he likes. If they do, after four years, they still won’t have a degree. There is a path, a plan, a goal. Stick with it and good things happen. Don’t get caught up with what others have and what others are doing. Don’t become jealous. This is a good lesson for us preachers. There will always be brethren who make a lot more than we do. Don’t let that bother you. There will be some who have weeks and weeks off at the end of the year. The preacher takes a day and then must get busy because Sunday always comes. Have a goal and then work to reach that goal.
Third, be generous. Be generous in your giving. Be generous in helping others. Use your money to help others. God has been generous to us and we ought to be to others. Keep your eyes open and find ways to help others.
It is interesting that Jesus spoke more about money and riches than He did Heaven. Money is part of our lives. Money can color our vision and change our attitudes. Work on honoring God through your blessings. I heard the story of a man preparing to be baptized. He put on the garments and just as he was stepping into the water, he put his wallet in his pocket. The preacher told him, your wallet will get all wet. The man said, “I know. I need it to get baptized as well.” Sure is something to think about.
Let us develop a thirst for righteousness and the Lord and not money.