My brother and sister-in-law worked very hard to build a highly successful business. They know the Lord and have everything money can buy, but they are very unhappy people. How can I help them?
Rich Yet Poor Family
Dear Rich Yet Poor Family,
I have met people all over the world who chased the dream of having it all by striking it rich. It is an empty pursuit as old as time itself.
Some that I have known put their entire identity in money. Some lost spouses and families in the pursuit. Some committed suicide when they lost their business or wealth. Some got so preoccupied with business that they failed to see the needs of the poor. It reminds me of the parable of the sower. Jesus referenced the seed that was sown among thorns: “… this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22 ESV, emphasis mine).
Introduce them to biblical financial principles
This is not an easy topic to broach with anyone — especially family. Yet you can see that money has not brought them what they truly need. There is a deep emptiness when one discovers, with disappointment, the unfulfilled promises of money. The Bible warns of this and offers a way of living that brings joy and future rewards. My advice is to get them into God’s Word to discover the true riches He promises to faithful stewards.
“If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?” (Luke 16:11 ESV, emphasis mine)
The deceitfulness of riches
Poverty is not God’s norm, but neither is lavishness and selfishness. It is clear from God’s Word that affluence presents the greatest threat to one’s walk with the Lord. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21, ESV). Perhaps nothing in our society reflects this better than when the wealthy who have lived for themselves face the end of life, look back, and realize their entire lives were spent in futility.
In the Parable of the Rich Fool, Jesus said, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” The rich man was referred to as a “fool.”
Consider The Rich Man and Lazarus. The rich man dressed in purple and fine linen and feasted sumptuously every day. But he had no regard for poor Lazarus, who desired to feed off what fell from the rich man’s table. The rich man suffered in Hades and desired that his five brothers be warned about the life to come for those who lived with selfish indulgence.
“If riches increase, set not your heart upon them” (Psalm 62:10b, ESV).
“Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.” (Proverbs 11:28, ESV).
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19–21, ESV).
“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26, ESV).
“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 … 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 (1 Timothy 6:9–10, 17 ESV).
The solution: Give generously
Most people of wealth are challenged when they hear the Parable of the Rich Young Ruler, who asked Jesus what he must do to have eternal life. Jesus knew his heart and told him to sell his possessions and give to the poor, and he would have treasure in Heaven; then follow Jesus. He challenged his identity, his security, and his temporal view of wealth, and it appears the young man failed the test and tried to hang on to his position, power, and money in this world. But God’s Word does not end there. Many more passages show us that the issue is to become unselfish and generous.
The Apostle Paul said, “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35 ESV, emphasis mine).
“Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse” (Proverbs 28:27, ESV).
“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:7–8 ESV, emphasis mine).
Approximately two-thirds of the New Testament references on giving apply to helping the poor, suffering, and persecuted Christians. In 2 Corinthians 8–9, the Apostle Paul addressed the topic of raising financial aid for suffering believers in another location, possibly due to persecution. He commended the Corinthians but challenged them to give:
“But since you excel in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you — see that you also excel in this grace of giving” (2 Corinthians 8:7 NIV, emphasis mine).
Ask the Lord to give you the opportunity to share with your brother and sister-in-law. Pray they will have eyes to see the poor. May they develop compassion for the persecuted church, the suffering, and the oppressed. Pray that they will desire to excel in giving and, in so doing, find joy beyond measure and the true riches promised to God’s faithful stewards.
The Crown God Is Faithful devotional offers inspiring and practical Biblical wisdom. You can subscribe to receive daily devotionals that will help transform your finances and provide much-needed encouragement. May it be a blessing to your family and you!
Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, a global Christian ministry, founded by the late Larry Burkett. He is the host of a daily radio broadcast, My MoneyLife, featured on more than 1,000 Christian Music and Talk stations in the U.S., and author of his most recent book, Economic Evidence for God?. Be sure to follow Crown on Facebook.
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