[Note: For this post only, since there are so many scriptures in this post, the comments will be highighted in a different color rather than the passages.]
I started and conducted a prison church from February 2020 till June 2023 when we moved. More than once I told the inmates that bad (horrible) food and all, they had it better than 90% of the people in the world. Most of those people would trade places with them in a heartbeat, razor wire and all.
Neither Jesus nor his Apostles ever said anything good about possessions. Below are all the verses I could find on the subject in the New Testament. Maybe we should reconsider some of our priorities and look for preachers and poor brethren around that 90% of the world that we can help….and not worry so much that some we help might be unworthy.
And, by the way, the Old Testament prophets speaking in the first person for God were even harsher.
"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth consume, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The lamp of the body is the eye: if therefore your eye be single, your whole body shall be full of light. " (Matt 6:19-22).
Focus is revealed by one's expenditure of time and money. Is "This World is Not My Home" just a song we sing?
What do you daydream about? Fantasize of? Wish for?
Or, is your mind so constantly distracted by music, phones, TV, etc. that you never think about anything?
"Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Heb 13:5).
Desire for security and discontent with life are a lack of faith.
"Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” (Matt 19:21-25).
The first comment in class will be, "We are not commanded to sell all." Every time. Everywhere. Why is that?
"And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:15-21).
But, who will give up his cable or his smartphone plan to support a preacher or help the poor?
"Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; " (Luke 21:34). NASB
Am I showing my citizenship in heaven when I NEED that new car, that bigger house, the latest fashions? We all have the same amount of time, we need not be rich to squander our lives on temporary things.
"whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things." (Phil 3:19). NASB
Look earlier in that chapter where Paul set his mind and think on what good the price of all those meals out could have done for brethren in third world countries. We need to press on to satisfy our appetites on invisible riches, not comfort and ease.
"traitors, headstrong, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; " (2Tim 3:4).
Add up all the money you spend in a year on your pleasure: television plans, movies, vacations, games, etc., and compare with the amount given to the Lord and His work.
"and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain, " (1Tim 6:5-6).
Godliness means that we do all with consideration of what God would think. Considering the scriptures thus far, where does our "pressing on" toward bigger and better, MORE and MORE fit in? Where does this leave the "Health and Wealth" gospel?
"for we brought nothing into the world, for neither can we carry anything out; but having food and covering we shall be therewith content. " (1Tim 6:7-8).
Content sometimes? Usually? When has anyone cautioned me for giving too much, being content with too little (2 Cor 8:3)?
"But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. " (1Tim 6:9-11).
First comment: "It's not wrong to be rich, it's the attitude." Truth! But, who flees? What do you pursue, "ME time"?
"As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. " (1Tim 6:17-19).
How do you use the blessings God has given you compared with Jesus' prescription in this next quotation?
"And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings. “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? " (Luke 16:9-11).
"And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when it shall fail, they may receive you into the eternal tabernacles. He that is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much: and he that is unrighteous in a very little is unrighteous also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? " (Luke 16:9-11).
God, I want to go to heaven more than anything so long as it is comfortable.
"Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? " (Jas 2:5-6).
"Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you." (Jas 5:1-6).
Sadly, I have heard of business owners in the church who were more than a little slippery in their dealings.
And cringed at the "oohs & aahs" when someone locally well-to-do or well-known attends services.
"And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” (Luke 3:10-11).
One need not need to be rich to help others.
"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. " (1John 2:15-17).
Time. Time! Where does yours go? What do you watch? What do you want? We dream of possessions, more possessions, pleasure and more pleasure and live fantasies it is a shame to speak of. What we think shows what we love.
"But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. “Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. “Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets." (Luke 6:24-26).
Have we come to a time when the gospel of repentance is diffused and defused for the sake of not offending? Will our failure to live for a different consolation from the worldly bring "Woes" to us?
"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 money.” (Luke 16:13).
Seems sort of absolute to me.
"Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits. " (Jas 1:9-11).
Remember, to 90% of the world, we are rich beyond imagination. Do you see your Christ image fading in the mirror, the image distorted by your use of God's blessings (2Cor 3:18, Jas 1:22-25)?
"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, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. " (Luke 12:33-34).
Does not this passage apply the lesson of the rich young ruler to us all? Were we honest with ourselves, would not we "go away sorrowful"?
"And Jesus seeing him said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! " (Luke 18:24).
And, I admit that gathering these scriptures and making the comments leaves me more than a bit uneasy.