One of the top five reasons why people become prideful, arrogant, and rude, and look down on others–is because they become rich. I’m not going to set any monetary figures in a rigid and dogmatic manner. But I will say, that no matter what culture or nation one lives in, the temptation to classism is present. Classism, or “caste system,” is a social phenomenon that separates people into socio-economic groups. The lower class, the middle class, the upper class–and all of their variations like blue collar and white collar.
It exists in the spirit world, but manifests through the way people spend their money, and especially how they behave toward others, based on how much money they have in their bank accounts. It is called the “socio-economic ladder” and depends on another ladder called the “corporate ladder.” These are both spiritually dangerous ladders to climb, because the higher one climbs, the more evil spirits there are to tempt men to be prideful over their wealth. And “pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18).
I used to think like St. Francis of Assisi. I thought that Christ taught Christians are supposed to be poor. I read, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God” (Luke 6:20); and I thought: “Wow, it is impossible for a rich man to be saved.” Or, at the very least, I thought that there was no way a rich Christian could live a fruitful life for God’s glory. After all, Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell everything he had, and give to the poor (Luke 18:22).
Also, I would look at the Word of Faith preachers like Benny Hinn and Creflo Dollar, and think: “I don’t want to be like them. God does not call Christians to live in the lap of luxury.” So, I sunk into a poverty mentality. Meanwhile, I was just starting a family, and the pressure of bills began to come. Guess what? The poverty philosophy doesn’t do a very good job at paying the bills, nor does it foster the ability to provide for your family, or live independently. St. Francis’ poverty philosophy had let me down–at least the way I was applying it. And I mused on the fact that he was not a father or a husband, nor did he have a family to provide for. And do you know what the Word of God says? “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8). Granted, when a man is out of work in an economic recession like this one, he has many factors working against him. And we would be wrong to condemn a man as lazy and unmotivated, simply because he is unable to break free from the woes of unemployment.
So, every Christian family man, is required by God’s Word, to pay the bills and provide for his family. This is without question the teaching of 1 Timothy 5:8. But when economic times are tough, sometimes it becomes necessary to live with your parents, even as Noah’s sons and their families had to all live in the ark (Gen. 7:1). But when God gives a family a financial breakthrough, there is freedom to live in that special gift: “A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife” (Gen. 2:24).
But there is a danger in all of this. Financial breakthroughs are not only gifts from God, but they are spiritual tests. They test our humility, detachment from possessions, thrift, and financial responsibility. This is a dangerous path for any Christian family to walk through, but they must do it to survive. You see, it can start with a “provide for my family” mentality, and over the years, turn into a Prosperity Gospel mentality. This must absolutely be resisted to the utmost extreme in the Name of Jesus! While 1 Timothy 5:8 calls Christians to provide for their families, 1 Timothy 6:9 says: “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.” If you want to be a balanced Christian, then don’t consider 1 Timothy 5:8 without also considering 1 Timothy 6:9. On the one hand, Christian men need to provide for their families; on the other hand, Christians should resist greed.
What is greed? It is a collection of “many foolish and harmful desires” that are only satisfied by “wanting to get rich.” Let me explain: it is desires and human will that God is trying to gain control of. God wants you to desire to provide for your family, give to the poor, and minister to the needs of others. These are wise and helpful desires, and they require a lot of money, and God is willing to give Christians the money to desire these sorts of things. But greed consists of “many foolish and harmful desires.” May I suggest a few? I think desiring to live in a mansion, own a luxury car, and dress in fine clothes are greedy desires. And if I will not be called legalistic, may I continue? How about: always wanting the latest TV, computer, or gadget; keeping up with the Joneses’ boat, etc; eating only at the finest restaurants; and always reserving posh five star hotels. Foolish and harmful desires? Why? Because they tend to become idols of the heart, and draw our attention away from God.
They consist of desiring “luxury items”: and they have a distracting power, causing men to forget the God who created them. Such a state of mind is truly “ruin and destruction.” This is the fruit of greed, and financial pride is interlaced all throughout it. This is not to say that there are some exceptions to the rule, but in general, I believe we are to have our focus on God, and use our money for practical purposes of provision and helping others. God does not like it when Christians squander their money on luxury items, and selfish desires of the heart. The Holy Spirit alone can help men to resist these things in Jesus’ Name. If you think it is impossible to live free from greed, then pray for God to help you. He will help: “What is impossible with men is possible with God” (Luke 18:27). I’m not preaching against fun. God likes it when we have fun, but requires that it be holy through His Spirit. Otherwise, fun = idol.
Greed, and the actual possession of money and things, is the cause for the pride of wealth. America’s many economic depressions and recessions are caused by this. Ask any Economics professor. I believe it is “the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16), that truly drags men down into “ruin and destruction.” Prison awaits all thieves and white collar criminals–motivated by greed. Hell awaits them too, if they don’t repent, and put their faith in Christ’s death on the cross (Rom. 3:21-31).
So, what should cautious Christians do? We are well aware that 1 Timothy 5:8 requires us to pay the bills, and provide for our families, the best we know how. How does the bill-paying Christian avoid the pride of wealth? First, avoid all luxury items you don’t need. Second, resist all greedy desires–they are foolish and harmful. Third, pray for God to help you. Fourth, thank God for the wealth that you do have, so that you may provide for your family, and responsibly minister to the needs of others in Jesus’ Name. Thanking God kills all pride, because through that you acknowledge that your money is a gift from God (Deut. 8:18).