Message To The Rich, Part 1
This is a message to the rich. Over the years of ministering and being on the radio and other things, I have talked to people who were millionaires. A millionaire used to call me about once a month for a while and he would discuss all the different aspects of money. He was confounded by the message. He would ask me things like, “What is wrong with my wife buying diamonds? She likes to wear pretty clothes and have nice things.” This was not someone in the world—he claimed to be a Christian. One of the things that everyone needs to realize is that Jesus was always very clear about money and being rich. He didn’t speak a lot of parables or hidden things. When Jesus talked about money, he was absolutely clear and concise. Jesus Christ told a young rich man to sell everything and come follow him.
Matthew 19:22-23- When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Scripture says it is difficult for the righteous to be saved. It is hard enough for average people, but when you combine that with riches in their life, it become even more difficult for God to save them.
Matthew 19:24 – Again I tell you…
He repeated it to the disciples because they didn’t listen. He said, “Truly I tell you it is difficult for a rich man to be saved.” They thought, “Oh, okay.” They didn’t really contemplate or take it serious enough. A lot of people do this with Jesus Christ when it comes to money. They read Scriptures about money and look at Jesus as the example. They look at all the Scriptures that talk about hating and despising money, and they just pass over it as if he really didn’t say anything too important.
Matthew 19:24- Again I tell 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.
This isn’t some parable about a small gate in Jerusalem where camels try to go through. Jesus spoke about taking a real sewing needle and a rope, and trying to make it go through the eye of that needle in order. In this way Jesus Christ said it is extremely difficult for a rich man to be saved. Jesus Christ repeated that until they finally understood and were amazed at what he said.
Matthew 19:25 – When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
If those in the world—even in the church—stepped back for just a moment and took Jesus Christ for what he had to say, they would be astonished about what he said about money. In the church today, those who are rich are often exalted and seen as “spiritual.” They are no longer astonished at what Jesus Christ has to say about money anymore. It has been so white-washed, watered down, and smoothed over that when people look at statements about money, they don’t think that there is anything astonishing about what Jesus Christ said. “When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, ‘Who then can be saved?’” It dawned on them about what it meant to follow Jesus Christ. When they looked at a rich man and saw that he must give up everything. There’s a serious cost to be considered to follow Jesus Christ. They asked the question, “Who can be saved then?” How is it possible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven?
Matthew 19:26 – Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
It is possible to save a rich man, but it is difficult. It is not easy for a rich man to come into the church and claim to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. It will be much more difficult for him to be saved than if he were poor. Yet, in the church today, being rich is exalted as something spiritual and holy.
Matthew 19:27 – Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”
Peter acknowledged honestly he had left everything to follow Jesus Christ. He realized the kind of life they lived, the surrender and devotion they had was also for those who are rich. Peter, in his flesh, would like to use the rich. He would use the money in a holy fashion, but not go so far as to say, “You have to give up everything and surrender all in order to follow Jesus Christ.” We reach a certain point where a man is so rich we don’t want to tell him to give up everything and surrender it all. We want to say, “Keep some of your riches as long you keep it in its proper perspective and use it to glorify God. Then it is okay for you to have those riches.” The reason we do that is because deep inside our hearts we hope that one day we could be rich like that, too. We want their approval and esteem. We want to use their money for God’s glory and our purposes.
Money is deceptive because it gives man the illusion of power and being blessed by God. They think that God somehow has smiled upon them more than others. There is a subtle pride that enters into a man’s life when he is rich. The reason for this is because money gives power and position. Money makes the world go around. It is what men esteem, and if you have money, they will esteem you also.
Proverbs 18:11 – The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it an unscalable wall.
The rich man’s faith lies in his wealth. Money enables him to do whatever he wants to do. An abundance of money is dangerous in Jesus Christ, because when you are poor you cannot act unless God acts. You can’t move unless he opens the door for you to be able to move. But, when you have reserves of money, you can act on an impulse. You can say, “I felt the Lord in this,” and act upon it, yet you may not realize that it wasn’t God’s will until way down the road and then it is too late. In every whim and justification of the part of the flesh that you want to make look spiritual, you can use that money for your glory. Men will not say, “That is not of the Lord” because they will not rebuke a rich man. Men will not venture into that territory because they want that approval. They want to use the money for their own message and blessings. A rich man’s wealth is his strong city—a city that is busy making money and doing things. A rich man is active. He can do whatever he wants to do and go where he wants to go. He can solve problems and take care of everything that comes his way. Verse 11 says it is like an unscalable wall in his own imagination. Money increases our imagination and our relationship with the Lord in our own thoughts. We think because we have this reserve of money that God has smiled and showered his favor upon us. We think we are in his grace and are blessed in him. In our imagination, we think the Holy Spirit speaks, guides, and inspires us because we have money. This money shows that somehow we are in a relationship with God, whereas with somebody who is poor (since the world looks down upon those who are poor), God somehow looks down on those people. A brother in this body was contemplating buying a house in the Lord. It wasn’t a pretty house, and one person turned to the brother and said, “If that is the kind of God you serve, and he’s telling you to buy that house, I would wonder if he loved you.” In his mind his money has lifted him up very close to the Lord. In his arrogance he thinks he is in a special relationship with God and other people are not, because they do not have money. In Revelations 3:17, the church of Laodicea was wealthy. They somehow thought they had special spiritual blessings from God.
Revelation 3:17 – You say, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
Money lifts us up and gives us a false sense of being blessed. Money gives us a security that is not faith. This faith doesn’t depend upon God, but upon the world. But, in our thinking, justifications, and in order to ease our conscience concerning money, we think somehow it is spiritual and that we do not need anything. We think we are not naked, miserable, and wretched. It was the church in Laodicea that said it had wealth and everything, yet it was the most blind as to its spiritual condition. There are a lot of people in the church today, especially in American, who are wealthy and think they are spiritual. They think they are blessed and in a better relationship with God than everybody else. They believe they hear the Holy Spirit, because money has deluded their minds and they know not who they are. They have lost sight of the message of the Cross so they do not know the truth anymore.
Every understanding concerning money must come from the Cross. Usually when you start talking about the commandment, people have a canned response—they’re ready with it. When you state that Jesus Christ said we are supposed to hate and despise money they will say, “Yes, I know that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. We are to have money in its proper prospective and be good stewards of the money God has given us” But they don’t mean what Jesus Christ has in mind concerning the Cross. They have in mind what man means by being a good steward, pleasing the flesh, taking care of ones future, defending ones life style, and doing all the things that a man does with his money. Yet somehow he gives a percentage to the Lord or gives thanks to the Lord.
1 Timothy 6:7 – For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.
The true Christian who knows God has the goal to die and take nothing with him—having taken everything that God allotted for him to receive and give it away to glorify God, in every way that he can. The faster I can deny self and be crucified to my wants, the more I can give and bless other people with the things that God has given me, the richer I really am. The more I hold on to and cannot deny myself in, the more I lose. I cannot take anything with me, and so my goal is to simply die, penniless and broke, having given it all to his glory.
1 Timothy 6:8 – But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
This is Jesus’ definition of greed. If I have one desire above clothing or the basic food for today; if I am not content with just a loaf of bread or a sandwich and a shirt; then I am in the realm of greed. If I want something more than my daily food and clothing, then I am greedy because I want something more for myself.
1 Timothy 6:9 – People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.
Just the desire to have wealth and be rich moves us into the direction of falling into temptation. We know that our hearts’ desire is to be rich. I spoke to someone this week about the difference between poverty and riches. He said, “I would like to have the problem of struggling with having too much money.” No, you wouldn’t—not if you saw the dangers of money and understood its temptation. If you understood its power, you would not say such a thing. Better to be poor, homeless, broke, and starving than to fall into having a bunch of money laid at your feet. Then you could fulfill every whim and desire that you wanted. You would have power and imagination to think that your relationship with God was something, when it is really nothing.
Scripture has very clear language about money. Nothing is left to chance. Jesus spoke about parables concerning Hell and Heaven, but when it comes to money, Jesus Christ was logical and clear. He was in our face about it. He was sure about what he said.
1 Timothy 6:9 – People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.
How much clearer can the Son of Man be? If we desire to be rich, if we desire to have more than food and clothing, Scripture says we will be ensnared and tempted into sin. Money inflames desire. If right now, as a church, we had a lot of money laid at our feet, every desire would well up in the flesh because then the means to achieve our goals would be available. If all of the sudden you inherit a large sum of money, you should pray and fast. This will show how much you are really crucified to your flesh. Money will be the means that you fulfill the desires and pleasures that plague your heart. Your flesh will come out and be seen for what it is. I heard of a story one time, many years ago, where some Christians inherited a large sum of money. They were fine, upstanding Christians. They had parties where the husband danced upon the coffee table with the lampshade on his head. This seems like stories you see in movies, but it really happened. The flesh never before had the opportunity or power to rise up to the surface, but once the money was there it became alive. So, we need to look deep within our heart and ask ourselves, “Do we want to be rich, or are we content?” It says that it plunges them into ruin and destruction. To have money and claim to be a Christian is a fearful thing to contemplate. It should drive everyone to holy, humble prayer.
1 Timothy 6:10-11 – For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.
What does Scripture tell us? We are to be content with what we have. We are to hate and despise money, and even more than that. Verse 11 says that we are to flee the desires of wanting money.
As we said earlier, we must see the Cross in everything concerning money. Again, Jesus is very, very clear.
Luke 16:13 – No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
The issue of money and the Christian comes down to one of two things: either you serve money or you serve Jesus. There is absolutely no middle ground. A man either fights to hold on to his money and will not let go of it, or he fights to embrace the Cross so that he might be crucified to all that is in this world. “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other.” The only true Christian is a Christian who hates money. A Christian who does not hate money is not a Christian, lives a lie, and does not understand a thing about the Cross of Jesus Christ. I want to say that again so that it is absolutely, one hundred percent clear: A man who claims to be a Christian, but does not hate money is a liar, not a Christian at all, and does not understand anything about the Cross of Jesus Christ—not one thing. “No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” You cannot serve God and wealth. They are not something that you can try to bring together. Do you understand? What does it mean to be a good steward mean in the church today? It means that you can serve God and money at the same time. Jesus says being a good steward means that I hate money and despise money. Jesus Christ’s evaluation about money is clear and absolute. He says, “Here is money; here is wealth. Your attitude toward money must be one of hatred and despising.” Hatred involves emotion, so that you come toward it with an attitude. Look at it as something that you will flee from, something you will use for his glory. To despise means that you will look down on it, even though you have it and God passes it through your hands; you despise that which he gives you and you will use it for his glory with that manner and attitude.
Luke 16:14 – The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus.
The Pharisees, religious people, church going people, and people who tithe their salt and mint were good stewards with their money. What was their attitude toward Jesus Christ? “The Pharisees, who loved money…” Again, what is Jesus’ definition of what it means to love money? He who does not hate money—loves money and he who does not despise money—is devoted to it. “The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus.” In their heart of hearts they said, “This is ridiculous and absurd.” In the deepest part of their hearts they thought, “This cannot be true—this is not how God works. Certainly Abraham, David, and Solomon were all rich. How can he come along and say that you have to have this kind of attitude toward money?”
Luke 16:15 – He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.”
Books about being good steward or managing your money are all attempts to justify the use of wealth. They tell us to give a percentage back to God, and then we can go home and feel comfortable about being wealthy. He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts.” He repeats it again! Jesus Christ makes the point one more time so that it is clear. He turned to those who sneered about this whole concept of hating and despising money and said: “What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.” What is more highly valued among men than money, wealth, and power? To move your ministry forward requires money and effort. I hear it all the time: “You have to have money to survive in this world.” I always love to say: “No, I don’t have to have money to survive in this world. You might, but I don’t.” Then they say: “What is God going to do, just drop it in your lap? Is he just going to lay it before you? How will he meet your needs?” He did with Elijah! The ravens brought him bread, and God provided a brook for his thirst. If that is what God wants to do, it will be done. I don’t need their money. “What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.” If we say that we have the heart of God and desire his understanding, then what should our attitude be about money? How does God view and understand money? He calls it something detestable. Yet people in the church say, “Money is not evil—it is the love of money that is evil!” No, money is detestable. He never envisioned it, nor did he want it. When he created the world and the universe he didn’t say, “Now let’s make money so people can exchange things.” We were supposed to love and give to one another, not having any thoughts concerning money. That is why the first church had all things in common. Money is a detestable thing that God never envisioned. It is something that comes instead from the heart of a darkened man.
The people who like to sneer will often say, “Well, Abraham was wealthy and had lots of riches, so there is nothing wrong with being rich.” Let us understand clearly—God decided long before I was born what would pass through Tim Williams’ life. God allotted a certain amount to come his direction. Now, what he does with it and whether he glorifies himself or God, is yet to be seen. We will see this illustrated in the life of Abraham.
Genesis 24:35 – The LORD has blessed my master abundantly, and he has become wealthy. He has given him sheep and cattle, silver and gold, menservants and maidservants, and camels and donkeys.
It is true that Abraham was rich, but what was his attitude about being rich? What did he do with that wealth? Abraham had been Promised Land, hadn’t he? God came to Abraham and said, “I will give you all that you see. Just look around you. That will be yours.” And then, God gave Abraham money, menservants, and everything else. It was within Abraham’s power to act and to seize the promise. Abraham had the wealth to purchase the land. He could have said, “God gave me this land because he gave me the wealth to buy it.” It could be the same with all of us. God may say, “I promise you this,” and then he gives us the money. He passes the money through our hands, but then we reach out in all of our self-glory because we want the land and the promise, so we fulfill it in our power and strength. Not so with Abraham. He, who had the power to fulfill the promise in his own power and justify it by saying that God gave him the money in order to achieve that promise, did not do so.
Hebrews 11:8 – By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.
Look at rich people within the church today. They build their magnificent homes and say, “The Lord gave me this money and promised me this house. Just like Abraham, God promised him many things.” The money lifts them up and they think everything is fine in their life, but they have sinned grievously and they know it not. Look at what Abraham did; it says that he went out not knowing where he was going. He wasn’t settled in this world. His retirement plan wasn’t in effect. He didn’t have a 401-K plan.
Hebrews 11:9 – By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.
When you look at Abraham’s life, what do you see? It says: “By faith he made his home…like a stranger.” He lived in the land of promise. He lived in the land that was to be given to him, but he lived there as a stranger. He never settled into this world and was never satisfied with it. It goes on to say, “in a foreign country, he lived in tents.” He was always on the move, never attached to this world, always pulling up stakes, always moving in faith, going from one work of the Lord to another. He never said, “Here’s my promise and fulfillment in the world. God gave me these riches. I’ll build my house and settle in. This is my nice little cozy life in Jesus Christ. I’ll give my percentage and do my little work that God has called me to do. I’ll go to church, and my life will be all orderly, neat, and tidy.” He had the wealth and means. He had many servants. He dwelled in tents and would pull up the stakes and move wherever God called him. That is why 1 John bids us to not love anything in the world, but to really have faith. Yes, Abraham was rich. He was rich because he wasn’t attached to anything in this world.
Acts 7:1 – Then the high priest asked him, “Are these charges true?”
Look at what Stephen said:
Acts 7:2-4 – To this he replied: “Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran ‘Leave your country and your people,’ God said, ‘and go to the land I will show you.’” So he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you are now living.
What does it say about the life of Abraham in verse 5? Did he settle into his home, cars, and possessions? Did he raise a nice little worldly religious family?
Acts 7:5 – He gave him no inheritance here, not even a foot of ground. But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land, even though at that time Abraham had no child.
He had the riches and could have bought his inheritance, but that would not have pleased God. God would not have been within Abraham had he bought the land. “He gave him no inheritance here, not even a foot of ground.” But, God promised him and his descendents would possess the land, even though at that time Abraham had no child. By all outward appearances, in a worldly manner, Abraham was poor. If you looked at the life of Abraham you would have told him, “You haven’t received any promises.” Abraham would have answered, “You’re right. I have not received my inheritance. And he who has promised me the world, has not given me even a foot of ground in this world.” The church today likes to boast in its prosperity doctrines. They say, “God has given us the world along with spiritual blessings.” Even Abraham, the father of our faith, who showed us the example, was not given one foot of ground that he could call his own. We pass through with a tent. We are aliens. God gives us things to glorify his name and to bless others.
People will say that David was rich. This excuse upsets me the most, because men constantly say, “Oh, David was rich.” They cannot even hold a candle to the things David endured in his relationship with God. It is true that David had a kingdom and riches, but what did David do most of the time? David fought battles. He was under judgment and disciplined much of the time. He never was able to settle down and enjoy his riches, and the one time he did, what happened to him?
James 1:9-11 – The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.
Verse 12 shows us something about David.
James 1:12 – Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
You may be saying, “What does this have to do with David?” It is true that David was a rich man and powerful man, but he was disciplined and on the move. God was always unsettling his life. Every time things seemed to go well God would rattle and move things, because he was purifying and making David holy. God will not let those who love him settle into this world very long. Just when you think everything is fine and financially everything will be in its proper place, along comes the Cross of Jesus Christ that demands more: It will purify and separate us from this world. We must learn that money is a detestable thing and we don’t need it to be happy. We don’t need it for God to do any of his work. All we need is him.
Psalms 132:1 – A song of ascents. O LORD, remember David and all the hardships he endured.
When rich people come to me and say, “David was rich,” I want to rebuke them to their face and say, “Show me your scars, discipline, and battles. Show me how you sacrificed for the Lord, stumbled, and wrestled. Show me how you hate and despise money before you ever talk about David’s heart.” These rich people will stand before David and he will call them to account. He will ask, “What did you endure? Where were the afflictions and the Cross in your life? How did you suffer with sin? How did you labor against these things?” We talk about being good stewards with a cool, calculated, Pharisee-talk. There is work to be done, people to be loved, and needs to be met. If the church could learn to hate and despise money, then the power of the Spirit might flow again.
Psalm 132:2 – He swore an oath to the LORD and made a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob,
Look at the power with which David spoke. Look at the risk that he took. How many of us have gone in before the Lord and said, “Lord, give me riches and I vow to you that I will not use them to please myself, but I will meet every need in Jesus Christ that you bring my way”? Who of us goes into the prayer closet and says, “God bring me millions of dollars and I will not use any of it to please my flesh in any form or fashion. If I do, I want you to bring me under the severest of discipline, because I want to meet the needs of other people”?
Psalm 132:3-5 – I will not enter my house or go to my bed—I will allow no sleep to my eyes, no slumber to my eyelids, till I find a place for the LORD, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.
Look at what he said, “I will not take a foot of ground for myself or claim it to be mine. Surely I will not enter my house, sit in my easy chair, and say my little prayers until something is accomplished. I will not lie on my comfortable bed with all of my riches and think that I am blessed. I will not give sleep to my eyes nor let any moment of rest enter my life until I find a place for the Lord—a dwelling place for the mighty one of Jacob.” David burned with a passion for God’s mission. He burned for his church and for the labor of God. He was in love with God. He said, “Forget my house, my sleep, my comfort, my bed, my couch, and all that I own. I just want to establish your house, Lord. A place where you can dwell a place that is called a house of prayer.” Does that burn in the heart of the rich within the church today? No. We see them giving a comfortable ten percent, like it’s a retirement plan given so you can get a tax deduction. We see planning and scheming, but not hearts that burn, make vows, or have convictions. We don’t see the needs of Jesus Christ being met, either, do we?
People say, “Well, Solomon was rich.” Solomon’s life and kingship began with a sober note.
1 Kings 3:1 Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt and married his daughter. He brought her to the City of David until he finished building his palace and the temple of the LORD, and the wall around Jerusalem.
There was a problem in Solomon’s life that he would never overcome. This is how he began his walk with God and God hoped that, like David, he would surrender it all and have the passion of his father.
1 Kings 3:2-3 – The people, however, were still sacrificing at the high places, because a temple had not yet been built for the Name of the LORD. Solomon showed his love for the LORD by walking according to the statutes of his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places.
It was not just any high place in Solomon’s life; it was a great high place. He never surrendered it. I know many rich people who will never let go of money. Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. He came with sacrifice and the covering of blood. It looked justified like he was sacrificing to God. He was at the high place doing his religious thing. He was at the high place coming before God, giving his tithes, offerings, prayers, and works. But, underneath it was the cancer of a high place. He knew not how to hate and despise money.
1 Kings 3:5-7 – At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day. Now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties.”
If everyone who was wealthy had that attitude and said, “I don’t know how to handle this wealth, I don’t know how to go out or to come in,” they wouldn’t fall into grievous sin.
1 Kings 3:8-13 – “Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both riches and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings.”
And then he ends with a warning:
1 Kings 3:14 – And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.
Certain people have said to me, “See, God gave him riches, and God gave me these riches, too.”
Remember, David’s heart burned for God’s house. So when David received riches, he gave them all back to the Lord. It should have humbled Solomon when God said, “I’ll give you riches.” Read what God said concerning kings and riches.
Deuteronomy 17:14-16 – When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, “Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us, be sure to appoint over you the king the LORD your God chooses. He must be from among your own brothers. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not a brother Israelite. The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the LORD has told you, “You are not to go back that way again.”
Christians should never go back to Egypt to learn how to handle their money. Christians should not go to a financial school to discover how to handle money. They should never use the knowledge gained in Egypt to try and glorify God’s name in any form or fashion. We are to receive the riches that God brings us and use them according to his purity and glory. Never mind what the world says is the best use of money.
Deuteronomy 17:17 – He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.
Do you see what God did? We just saw that Solomon was given a dream. God came to Solomon and said, “I will give you riches. I will give you gold and silver.” Solomon would have been wise to turn and say, “But God, in Deuteronomy 17 you have stated the king is not suppose to accumulate gold and silver!” So, why did God offer something contrary to his law? It is the narrow road that we all must walk. What does it say in verse 17? “He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.” A man who hates and despises money will not use it to please himself. If Solomon had kept this command, if he had read this law as God warned him, he would have understood not to accumulate wealth for himself.
Look at how Solomon ended his days. Riches and success are very, very dangerous things before God. It is very dangerous for a rich man to be in church. But, how few know they should be working out their salvation with double fear and double trembling.
1 Kings 11:1 – King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites.
The sin that began with one daughter of Pharaoh ended with multitudes of worldly lovers. This is the problem! You can’t have money in its proper perspective and not expect it to overcome your whole life. It is something that we must hate and despise. It is detestable! We must keep it out of our lives. This is why scripture says to keep our lives free from the love of money.
1 Kings 11:2 – They were from nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love.
A man, who does not hate and despise money, loves money. A man who says to you, “I just don’t think it says that,” loves money. A man who says, “I don’t want to learn what it is to hate and despise money,” holds fast to his love.
1 Kings 11:3-7 – He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD; he did not follow the LORD completely, as David his father had done. On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites.
He began with the sin of a high place. God blessed him with wisdom, knowledge, and success, but how does it end? By constructing another high place at the end of his life. God draws a lot of rich people. He convicts them of sin and shows them who they are. They come to the Lord and then he gives them riches. They don’t learn to die to self and be crucified to this world. Instead of the power of the Cross being in their lives, they die having pleased themselves in every form and fashion. They end their lives in futility and destruction. If God gives you a large amount of wealth, hit your knees and pray, fast, and plead to keep a pure heart.
1 Kings 11:8 – He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods.
Solomon sacrificed his own children on altars. They would heat up brass plates and then he took his children and set them down on these brass plates and watch the children cook. He who had been given wisdom and grace, to whom God had appeared twice, and had been visited by the Holy Spirit—ended his life sacrificing his own children.
1 Kings 11:9 – The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice.
You may meet some rich people in the church who will say, “But God visits me, gives me dreams, talks to me, and guides my life.” These things may be true, but that doesn’t mean the end result of their life will not be similar to Solomon’s.
1 Kings 11:10 – Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the Lord’s command.
The Lord commands all who claim to be Christians to rejoice in learning to hate and despise money—from pastors on down to the lowliest member of the church.
This is a side note of interest in Scripture. We all know what the mark of the beast is. We know his number is 666.
1 Kings 10:14 – The weight of the gold that Solomon received yearly was 666 talents,
God is trying to tell us something all the way through Scripture. He’s trying to give us an honest evaluation of money, wealth, and power. He’s trying to show us man’s number. It is the number of the antichrist.
If you can’t hate and despise money now, what makes you think you will survive when the time finally comes? Hating this life and money are some of the grandest freedoms I’ve ever experienced in Christ. I love to participate in them more and more.
The rich are to do six things:
Number One. This one will grate against them more than anything else. The first thing a rich person should do is find someone who can instruct them about riches. This grates against them because the rich think they know how to handle money. They believe they know best how to handle money. When you come to them and say, “You know, you don’t know how to handle money,” they will look at you like you are completely crazy. Since you’re poorer than they are, why would they go to you for advice on how to be rich?
1 Timothy 6:17 – Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
The Hebrew says command the rich and the Greek says charge them. The emphasis is that you have to get into a rich person’s life. You have to enter into fellowship with them and say, “I will instruct you and show you how not to be conceited, because you are conceited. You think your money is a tower in a city. It has lifted you up in your imagination, and I want to tear it down.” You cannot find a church where the leadership is dead enough to the issue of money to enter into rich men’s lives and tell them they should not be conceited about money. Most churches cannot see clearly where their own heart is, let alone enough to find some rich people who claim to be in Jesus Christ that are teachable enough for this. “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” Do you understand the attitude that we as a body need to have toward those who are rich? You must enter into their lives being dead to money yourself, knowing what it is to hate and despise money. Then you go to them and say, “I will instruct you on how to have true joy, be humble, and have money in its proper place. You don’t know how to do these things, because you are rich.”
1 Timothy 6:18 – Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.
We should tell them, “I will teach you how to be generous. Don’t tell me how generous you are, what a good steward you are, how much you give or how you sacrifice. I’m not interested in how you handle money because you don’t know how to hate and despise it. So, we will give you to somebody who is poor and knows how to live by faith and they will teach you how to be generous.”
1 Timothy 6:19 – In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
You see, money hinders, binds, and entraps them. It keeps them from true joy. Their mind and heart are focused on how to handle the money and where it should go. People are always asking them for money. It is enslavement and a trap. Recently, there was a church where someone left them $60,000,000. The donor never came to church, but somehow in one day, he left them $60,000,000. I feel sorry for that church. There was a report in the paper a few weeks later that said the phone would never stop ringing at this church. There was constant discussion of what to do with it, how to handle it, and where it is supposed to go—because it is a trap.
Number Two. The rich should find those who can see their hearts and help them get clean. They need to find somebody who can see their hearts clearly.
Proverbs 28:11 – A rich man may be wise in his own eyes, but a poor man who has discernment sees through him.
It’s natural—it comes with being rich. It would happen to the best of us. I guarantee that anybody in this body who doesn’t have his foundation firmly in the crucified life, will have the illusion that he is wise and blessed. You can be very successful, however, it is just a consequence of money. That’s one reason God kept David on the run all the time. You must flee these things if you are a man of God. But, if you won’t flee, God will bring the rod and chase you out. “A rich man may be wise in his own eyes, but a poor man who has discernment sees through him.” I have bumped into rich people during my walk with the Lord and I don’t give them the respect they think is due them. The truth is—I do. I ignore them. That’s what is due them. They are vessels of clay just as I am a vessel of clay.
Number Three. They need to measure how much they give in percentage, not in amount. The rich measure how much they give, but God measures the percentage they give. Or to reverse it, God looks at how much you keep and not how much you give. Jesus was standing at the temple:
Luke 21:1-2 – As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.
Now, this is the Living God watching people give in church. This is how God views things.
Luke 21:3 – “I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others.”
She gave more than all of the rich people who came in and gave out of their abundance, because she put in more—she gave 100%.
Luke 21:4 – All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.
Even in our giving (though most of us have to confess we give out of our surplus) some of you have begun to experience the power of the Cross. Out of your poverty you’re beginning to give. Even so, how many of us can say we put in everything that we had to live on, in our poverty, and have given 100% or more? The rich need to find this poor widow, sit in her house, and look at her fate. They need to open the Bible with her, turn to her, and say, “Teach us how to handle wealth.” The rich in the church need to find those who by faith know how to give 100%. They need to find someone to teach them how to handle money.
Number Four. Those who are rich need to have this attitude. They need to have this testimony. They need to wear it on their banners and hats—everything that they have. This is what they need to declare whenever they meet anyone, or enter a church.
James 1:9 – The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position.
That is, the brother who is poor is to glory in his high position. The man or woman who is poor is to say, “I am rich in Jesus Christ. He gives me faith and life, and I know how to conduct myself in this world.” But, the rich are to do something else.
James 4:10 – But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower.
He is to glory in his low position. When he reaches out his hand to shake hands with someone, he should say, “You know, I am literally nothing in Jesus Christ because I’m a rich man. I’m not special. I’m not blessed. In fact, God is humiliating me. I don’t know why he has given me this money. I don’t know what I did wrong.” This is how they should introduce themselves. But, how do they want to be introduced? They want to be loved and get attention. Every whim must be met. Everybody loves them. They have all kinds of friends. What are they supposed to do in their neighborhoods and fine homes? They should run up and down saying, “I don’t know what I did wrong! I don’t know what is in my heart that God has to humble me by giving me this money. What chaff is he trying to burn out of my life? What is it about me that has to have money? What is this trust that he has given me?” They are to glory and bask in it. They are to declare, “I am being humiliated in Jesus Christ.” The rich man is to glory in his humiliation because, like flowering grass, he will pass away. Instead, in the church, they’re given positions of elders and deacons. This is an infuriating thing. When you go into many churches, you will find that it is the successful businessman who is in a position of leadership. What is wrong with this picture? They are not the ones given faith. The rich are not the ones to whom God gives wisdom and knowledge. It is the poor who has wisdom and knowledge. God gives his Holy Spirit to the poor widow. God gives grace and understanding to all who sacrifice and give—not the rich pastor that has the fine house. I owned a house once in my life, and I learned a lesson from that. Everybody’s dream is to own a house, but in the law it says that priests are not to own a home. God doesn’t want them settled in and connected in the world. He wants them separated so they can teach the people who own homes not to be attached to those things. The pastor who has his retirement plans and owns his home is settled in this world. But we need people who are rich in the church. There are some who claim that they’re not rich, though you know they are. Tell them to glory in their low position. Find the poor person and listen to what they have to say and how God has provided for their needs and worked his glory. What glory is it for a rich man who says, “God has met all my needs”? How do we know God has done that? How do we know you just didn’t act on those needs? Go watch and learn how God provides for the poor widow.
Number Five. Tell the rich to make themselves poor.
2 Corinthians 8:7 – But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
Just as you excel in everything—in faith, speech, knowledge, complete earnestness, and your love for us—see also that you excel in the grace of giving.
2 Corinthians 8:8 – I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others.
This is not a command. I won’t go up to a rich person and shake him down. This is a matter of the heart. If they don’t want to do it, let them keep their money! I mean that literally, take your money and go to some nice Presbyterian church and be exalted! Do whatever you want to do. I don’t want your money. If you don’t want to be free in Jesus Christ, know his life, and won’t live these things, go somewhere else! I’m not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. In other words, to the rich man, “Let’s look at the widow and your life. How does your life compare? What kind of love do you have?”
2 Corinthians 8:9 – For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
I know what most of you in this body are experiencing right now, as God takes a hold of your life. Are you getting richer or poorer? Are you living more dangerously now than you did before? We are to walk in Jesus Christ’s footsteps and be like him. The rich are to do the same thing—to make themselves poorer, not richer. Their goal should be to die, taking nothing with them, and having expended everything for his glory on their way out. Then, they will have rich treasures.
Number Six. They are to meet the needs of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 2:20-21 – I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.
David longed to build the House of God to meet the needs of Jesus.
James 2:1-3 – My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,”
If a rich man comes through those doors he gets no special attention. I won’t walk over to him and give him a nice friendly little handshake and say, “Sure glad to have you here.”
James 2:3-4 – If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
In other words, to the rich man people say, “You be an elder. You be a deacon.” But, the poor guy, he is just an average churchgoer. He tithes. He does his thing. You know, he is just a good member.
James 2:4 – …have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
I wish the rich would learn that the only reason they get special attention is not because they are lovelier than the rest of us. It is because people want their money! The only reason they get special attention when they go to restaurants or buy clothes is because people want something from them, not because they’re more beautiful people, blessed, or holy.
James 2:5 – Listen, my dear brethren:
“Listen, my dear brother.” Listen. Over and over again—we hear that all through Scripture. Jesus is saying, “Truly, listen—pay attention”
James 2:5 – Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?
This is whom God has chosen. Man chooses the rich and the successful. Man chooses those people for leadership. But, whom does God choose? If we say we have his eyesight and want his heart, then we will choose what he chooses and we will see what he sees. “Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith?” If you want to learn to have faith, then find the poorest member in the church who knows how to pick up his cross and follow Jesus Christ. God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he promised to those who love him. God said he will choose the poor and make them rich, and he will humiliate the rich man. That is what it clearly declares. The church can’t say that anymore, because they love the rich man. They want the miracles and riches. When Peter healed a man, he said, “Gold or silver I do not have, but what I have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Now the church says, “Gold and silver we have, get up and dance around. We will not show favoritism one way or another. Just because a rich man comes in it doesn’t mean we’re going to jump all over him and tell him how ignorant and stupid he is. But, we won’t somehow feel inferior because we’re poor. We won’t make personal distinctions. We will present all men perfect in Jesus Christ, and if a man is rich, I will present him perfect in Jesus Christ. If a man is poor, I will present him perfect in Jesus Christ, too.
Proverbs 22:2 – Rich and poor have this in common: The LORD is the Maker of them all.
The reason God makes them rich is so they can meet his needs—so love can be expressed.
In 1 Chronicles, David is reaching the end of his life. How different it is from the life of Solomon! You know, it is sad. I look at many rich people in the church and people with wealth, and I know how their life will end. I can see the course they run for themselves and the foundation they are laying down. It is easy to tell what they live for. They do their little token Christian giving, but you see self written all over everything. When push comes to shove, it is easy to see that they love themselves and don’t know what it is to hate their own life. Here, David prepares to die.
1 Chronicles 29:1 – Then King David said to the whole assembly: “My son Solomon, the one whom God has chosen, is young and inexperienced. The task is great, because this palatial structure is not for man but for the LORD God.”
Why do most people build a church and have a new building fund? It is not for the Lord. It is for themselves—their ministry, their work, and their name. It is to gain more numbers. It is not for the Lord so they can draw someone to their house of prayer.
1 Chronicles 29:2 – With all my resources …
David’s whole life of being blessed with riches was leading up to one last point. All the money that he earned, all the riches that God brought his way, all the discipline he went through, and all the grace that was given him lead up to one central goal within David’s heart. It is all that he lived for. It is all that his resources were for, and it had nothing to do with himself. He burned with a passion in everything that he did—in action, word, deed, money, prayer, and all he had was for the House of the Lord. Most of us burn for our own home and then for the House of the Lord, or we mix it up just a little bit.
1 Chronicles 29:2 – With all my resources I have provided for the temple of my God—gold for the gold work, silver for the silver, bronze for the bronze, iron for the iron and wood for the wood, as well as onyx for the settings, turquoise, stones of various colors, and all kinds of fine stone and marble—all of these in large quantities.
Every aspect of David’s life, whether it was something that was shiny and gold, clay, stone, or whatever it was, was for one central thing—that God might dwell there. So, all that we buy for ourselves and do should be for his glory because we are his temples. I want you to know again, like Abraham, David died before his house was built. Did he receive the thing promised? No, but, he left all of the means for it to be done.
1 Chronicles 29:3 – Besides, in my devotion to the temple of my God I now give my personal treasures of gold and silver for the temple of my God, over and above everything I have provided for this holy temple.
Oh those words! You can have a building fund with the gimmicks to raise money and have fun doing it. But, who can find a group of people who delight in the House of God and delight in giving all? In most churches you have to twist arms to get money, beg, plead, pry, and promise grand things to motivate people. This was David’s delight. It is what he lived for. It is what he longed to do. Priests didn’t have to come ask or plead with David. “Besides, in my devotion to the temple of my God…” The man who delights in the House of God can call God his own God—He can say “My God.” Again, remember when Saul was dying—what did he say to Samuel? “Your God.” David could die saying: “…my God I now give my personal treasures of gold and silver for the temple of my God, over and above everything I have provided for this holy temple.” He provided over and above what was called for. When a rich man has riches, does he give over and above what he has?
1 Chronicles 29:4-5 – three thousand talents of gold (gold of Ophir) and seven thousand talents of refined silver, for the overlaying of the walls of the buildings, for the gold work and the silver work, and for all the work to be done by the craftsmen. Now, who is willing to consecrate himself today to the LORD?
There is no need to work anybody up to joy. What does he burn and long for? Can you look at David’s life and say he hated and despised money? Can you look at David’s heart and say, “I can tell there is a man who puts no value in money for himself.” The rich people that I know who claim to be Christians tell me they have money in its proper place. They would have to prove it to me. But, a man like David, you don’t have to ask him to prove it. You’d feel like an idiot. If you went up to David and said, “I don’t believe you,” he’d laugh in your face, and justly so. Verse 5 ends this way: “Now, who is willing to consecrate himself today to the LORD?” That’s the question that Jesus Christ poses to each of us. He comes to us in the greatest of love. He comes to us and says, “You know, to love me is to hate money. To love me is to despise money.” Who will consecrate and separate themselves unto the Lord? Who will go find the poor widow, put their arms around her, and say, “I call you sister.” Who will find those who are learning to embrace the cross in its fullness and all that it means? Who will go up to the rich and say, “I will instruct you on how to really be a man or woman of God”? Who will give themselves over to the Lord to be taught by that cross how to hate and despise money so they can teach somebody else with purity of heart? Who then will consecrate themselves for the House of the Lord, for the sake of the Lord—not for blessings—but to give something back to the Lord? Who then is willing? We won’t twist arms or make anybody do it. We won’t do gimmicks or have a sale day. We won’t do anything else. If you don’t want to give to the Lord—if you want to hold onto your riches and be rich, then go be rich! We don’t need your money. But, I’ll tell you what we do need—we need poor widows. We need elders and deacons who know how to hate and despise money. We need men in leadership that know what it is to give everything to God and trust God in everything. We need people dead to money. We do not need their money for our projects, our ministries, our works, or anything else. It is better to lose all those things—to be poor and pure than to be rich and crooked. Who is willing then to consecrate himself for the work of the Lord? Who is willing to live and burn with the heart of David? Yes, David was rich—but it wasn’t his gold and silver that made him rich. It was his heart.
Let’s go ahead and pray:
Father, glorify your name, and grant us that freedom, Father, to have the attitude and the heart of David and the saints. Show us the poor widows. Show us if our own dependence, Father, is upon money and that we use it to please ourselves. Make these things alive within us, Father, that we would be able to flee the things of this world. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional.