Monday, August 21, 2023


You might think, rich is the other guy. Rich is having more than you currently have. If that’s the case, you can be rich and not know it. You can be rich and not feel or act like it. In fact, most of us are richer than we think.

Find out how to be rich and popular.
1) Money Does Things to People
The apostle Paul was a mentor to a younger man named Timothy. And in effect, he gave Timothy lessons on wealth. It wasn’t because Timothy had a large estate. But as a young pastor, Timothy was in charge of preaching to people in places like Ephesus. By this time, many rich people had embraced Jesus and his teachings. Churches were popping up in many of the port cities that ringed the Mediterranean. Port cities were epicenters of trade and wealth. Paul, who had planted many of these churches, knew that rich people faced unique challenges as they adopted the new worldview introduced through Christianity. Just like today, the Christians of Paul’s time were vulnerable to the dizzying effects of money. So he addressed some of their specific needs in a letter to his young protégé.

When I ran across this 1 Timothy 6:17, I thought what most people think: “I can skip this part, because I’m not rich.” Rich is that other guy, that other family. But then I got to thinking. I’ve been to some places in the world where I was the rich guy. I’ve visited places where I felt very rich in this present world. In fact, during my research on this topic, I discovered that if you make over $48,000 a year, you’re in the top 1% of the wage earners in the world.

And you know what, money does things to people. People who are rich have tendencies and propensities that are unique to them. Those tendencies can be attributed directly to the presence of riches in their lives. The more a person possesses, the greater his potential to acquire a distorted sense of reality and the greater the odds that he will lose his sense of balance. So Paul instructs Timothy to do what he can to neutralize the effects of wealth on the wealthy.

Money makes us arrogant, and over time it becomes our primary source of hope, leaving us with the impression that we are self-sufficient. Wealth has its own gravitational pull. It will always draw those who have it in the direction of those two things. It is in this way that wealth eventually possesses its possessors. Cross a river, and the current will pull you in a downstream direction. Cross paths with wealth and you will be drawn in the direction of arrogance and the illusion of self-sufficiency. To survive the test of wealth, to be good at being rich, one must learn to compensate and resist its sinister force.

‘Charge them that are rich in this world, that they are
not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches,
but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;
That they do good, that they are rich in good works,
ready to distribute, willing to communicate; ‘
1 Timothy 6:17-18

‘ For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the
whole world, and lose his own soul? ‘
Mark 8:36

2) Migrating Hope.
According to Paul, when you’re rich there’s a natural inclination for your hope to migrate toward money. And if you fall into this trap, then the wealthier you get, the more you will hope in riches. When riches become the basis for your hope – the source of it – you’re headed down a slippery slope.

So here’s the challenge. Financial stewardship and planning are important. We’re supposed to be responsible with our money. We need to address things like life insurance, savings, and retirement. We just need to figure out how to do it without putting our hope in riches.
Proverbs 18:11 describes the migration of hope this way: “The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it a wall too high to scale.”

In other words, rich people (which includes us, remember from Day 1) have the potential to reach a point where they see money as the source of their safety and security. When somebody has a good income, there’s a tendency to get caught up in a paycheck or a bank account. When something threatens a rich person’s way of life, he can just write a check or swipe a credit card and neutralize the threat. Whatever he needs is within his reach – thanks to money. Like a high wall, money forms an invisible perimeter around him, giving him the spending power to keep trouble at bay.

And the writer of Proverbs observes that when things are going well financially„ and we’re experiencing a long string of situations in which we’ve needed something and all we had to do was reach for our wallets – our hope will tend to migrate. If we repeat this pattern long enough, we will form an association in our minds between hope and money. Eventually, we will begin to imagine that there is an amount of money large enough to take care of us for life.

Notice that the writer of that proverb said the rich “imagine” a wall too high to scale. The wall exists only in their imaginations. In reality, there’s no amount of money that can protect us from everything.
‘keep me from lying, and let me be neither rich nor poor.
So give me only as much food as I need. If I have more,
I might say that I do not need you.
But if I am poor, I might steal and bring disgrace to my God. ‘
Proverbs 30:8-9

3) Some Things Money Can’t Buy.
It’s interesting that no matter how sophisticated their mini-civilizations are, the Ùber-rich still manages to feel insecure. Years ago, Sandra and I had dinner with a billionaire couple. We knew they were billionaires because it had been all over the news a few weeks earlier when they sold a company for billions of dollars. While we were having a conversation, this couple began talking about all the economic threats we face today. And with a very serious tone, they remarked about how you have to be really careful with your money because there’s just no end to the ways you can lose it. Their concern was sincere. And their fear was authentic.

When it was over, Sandra and I just looked at each other and silently communicated what we were thinking: If the billionaires are worried about money, then we’re in big trouble! That couple was right about one thing. There are lots of needs that even a billion dollars can’t meet.
You don’t have to be a Christian to get behind this principle. We’ve all seen that it doesn’t work to count on money for your hope. Like the MasterCard, commercial admits, “There are some things money can’t buy.” It can’t buy the priceless things in life. And there comes a time when it can’t buy hope either. Because there’s no amount of money that can guarantee you hope in any and all circumstances.
Therefore, putting your hope in riches is a dangerous trap. And Jesus knew all about this threat. That’s why he had more to say about money and possessions than heaven and hell combined.

Proverbs paint a picture of what can happen when our hope migrates. In fact, the writer concludes that he would rather not be rich so as to avoid this threat. He says, “Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?'” (Proverbs 30:8-9).

4) Side Effects May Include.
Wealth has some pretty powerful side effects. If wealth were an over-the-counter medicine, there would be bold warnings printed on the packaging. Warning: May cause arrogance. While taking this medicine, extra precaution should be taken not to offend people. If taken for prolonged periods, it may impair perception, causing hope to migrate. If you saw a commercial for wealth on TV, it would show pictures of happy people holding hands in the park. Meanwhile, the announcer would be listing all the ways it can ruin your kidneys, rot your stomach, cause sudden heart failure, and destroy your life.

So what can you do to offset these terrible side effects?
With some medicines, the side effects can be reduced by taking them with food, by starting off with small doses, or by combining them with additional drugs. The side effects of wealth can be mitigated in a similar way. Not by drinking milk, but by exercising a particular routine on a regular basis. Paul explained to Timothy this way:
“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.” (1 Timothy 6:17)

Did you see it? The way to offset the side effects of wealth … to avoid being arrogant and putting your hope in wealth … is to put your hope in God. That’s the short answer anyway.
Haven’t you met people who are good at this? There are some rich people who, no matter how much God sends their way, never seem to put their hope in their riches. Some are “middle-class” rich. Some are multimillionaires. And some only seem rich when you compare them to a third-world country. But no matter how rich they are, they don’t trust in their riches. They trust in God.

An amazing thing can be observed within this group of rich people. Since their hope is in the Lord, they never seem to suffer from the first thing Paul cautioned about: arrogance. Despite being rich, they’re humble and thankful and generous at heart. They don’t worry if they’ll have enough or if the stock market will recover or if the merger will go through. Their hope is in the Lord. So their hope remains steady in every circumstance they face.

‘Command those who are rich in the things of this life not
to be proud, but to place their hope, not in such an
uncertain thing as riches,
but in God, who generously gives us
everything for our enjoyment. ‘
1 Timothy 6:17

5) Put Your Hope in God
What do you do in order to put your hope in God? What are the steps?
Look at what Paul says:
“Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.” (1 Timothy 6:18)
There you go. A step-by-step plan for keeping your hope from migrating away from God and toward wealth. If you think about it, adhering to that command would definitely have an impact on things. Imagine if every rich person were to live by that statement. It would be hard to be arrogant if you spent all your time thinking up things to do that were “good.” And you couldn’t “be rich in good deeds, and … generous and willing to share” if you also put all your hope in the things you were so generously sharing.

I have a simple mantra that sums it all up. I like mantras because they summarize big ideas into little phrases that are easy to remember. So are you ready? Here it is:
“I will not trust in riches but in Him who richly provides.”
Go ahead. Say that out loud to yourself a couple of times. If you’re sitting alone in a Starbucks, adjust your Bluetooth headset first and nobody will even know you’re talking to yourself.

That one simple shift of your mindset holds the key to being good at being rich. Wealth has side effects. And the side effects that come with wealth are the very things that keep us from being good at it. Ironic, isn’t it? The richer you get, the harder it gets to be good at it. But if we can address the temptation to trust in riches, “I will not trust in riches” and reinforce the idea of trusting in God instead, “but in him who richly provides,” we will neutralize the side effects.
It sounds pretty simple. Just repeat that handy phrase to yourself a couple of times a day and you’re set – “I will not trust in riches but in Him who richly provides.”

6) The Consumption Assumption
Jesus taught his followers a rather interesting definition of greed. He said that greed is the assumption that everything placed in our hands is for our consumption.

The scene where Jesus taught this concept is recorded in the gospel of Luke. One day when Jesus was preaching to his followers, an argument broke out in the crowd. It was an argument about greed. One person accused the other of greed and vice versa. In response, Jesus began to tell a story:
“The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest …” (Luke 12:16)

Here’s a rich guy who finds himself with more than he needs. He had a good year. So what will he do with the extra?
Remember, Jesus is making up the story. Jesus wanted to get us thinking about the different things we could do when we find ourselves in that situation. He wanted to teach us the right and wrong ways to respond if we ever find ourselves with more than we need. He showed us how to be good at being rich. And interestingly enough, the rich guy in Jesus’ story did what a lot of us do when we have good years. Jesus continued:
“He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.’ And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.'” (Luke 12:17-19)

So the rich man in the story tore down his old barns and built new ones. At first glance, that seems pretty reasonable. In fact, it’s industrious.
So far, it’s just a good story. We like the premise and we like the main character. We’re living vicariously through his season of good fortune. We’re just waiting for Jesus to say, “And he lived happily ever after.” But then things took a morbid turn:
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:20-21)

Like most things Jesus had to say, this parable represented a monumental shift from conventional thinking. He was announcing a new paradigm for those times when we find ourselves with extra.
Whenever we have more than we need, our natural assumption will be that it’s for our own consumption. But that’s the wrong mindset. Jesus was exposing the flaw in that way of thinking. If we simply store up for ourselves and are not rich toward God, then everything we possess will be a total loss. At some point, everybody leaves it all behind. But if we will take advantage of the times when we have more than we need, and do more than simply save it for ourselves – then we can become rich toward God. And the implication is that it won’t be a loss anymore.

‘Then Jesus told them this parable: “There was
once a rich man who had land which bore good crops.
He began to think to himself, ‘I haven’t anywhere to
keep all my crops. What can I do?
This is what I will do,’ he told himself;
‘I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones,
where I will store my corn and all my other goods.
Then I will say to myself, Lucky man!
You have all the good things you need for many years.
Take life easy, eat, drink, and enjoy yourself!’
But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night
you will have to give up your life; then who will get
all these things you have kept for yourself?’ ”
And Jesus concluded, “This is how it is with those who
pile up riches for themselves but are not rich in God’s sight.”’
Luke 12:16-21

7) Percentage Not Dollars
Back in Jesus’ day, the offering plate wasn’t passed. It sat in the same place and people walked up and dropped in their coins where everyone could see. Jesus was watching as person after person came up to make his offering. There were rich people who put in larger donations and poor people who put in what they could.
As Jesus looked on, an elderly widow hobbled up to the offering plate and produced two small copper coins. It was almost embarrassing how insignificant her donation was, especially compared to all of the successful, prosperous people who came before her. Jesus’ comments on the scene are recorded in the gospel of Mark:
“Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:43-44)

If you’ve heard this story before, it’s easy to miss what it says about percentage giving. At first glance, the message is warm and uplifting because Jesus is showing favor to someone with whom we sympathize. It could be your grandma. It makes us feel good to see Jesus, God’s Son, giving a shout-out to the little people.
The emotional takeaway of this story is that Jesus is kind toward little old ladies. But the passage contains a powerful principle about giving too. And it’s this: The percentage matters more than the sum. The money principle doesn’t give us warm fuzzies like the part about little old ladies does. But it’s just as significant.

So what percentage should you give? I tell people to start with 10 percent because the Bible writers have a lot to say about the tithe, which means “tenth”. For some people, that’s extremely uncomfortable. But so is a colonoscopy, and those save countless lives. It just depends on how badly you want to protect yourself from the side effects of wealth. Remember, it’s not just a way to be “good.” It’s a preventative. The most important thing is to start somewhere.

‘He called his disciples together and said to them,
“I tell you that this poor widow put more in the
offering box than all the others. For the others
put in what they had to spare of their riches; but
she, poor as she is, put in all she had — she gave all
she had to live on.”’
Mark 12:43-44

8) The Great Gain
Contentment. There’s a concept we don’t hear much about. And let’s be honest, isn’t it discontentment that fuels our unnecessary, irresponsible, and, at times, harmful spending? Paul goes so far as to say that contentment is great gain. Translation: Contentment is more valuable than the things you acquired because of your discontentment. Looking back, we know this to be the case.

Ever regretted a large purchase? If you could go back and choose contentment with what you had over the purchase your discontentment caused you to make, wouldn’t you have done it? Of course. Why? Because with hindsight you can see the value or the gain of opting for contentment. Opting for contentment would have actually made you richer. If you are truly interested in gain, contentment is the ticket.
How can less stuff result in greater contentment? The answer is found in an observation regarding the nature of appetites: If you feed an appetite, it grows. Satisfying an appetite does not diminish it. It expands it. To diminish an appetite, you have to starve it.

Paul understood this. In fact, he took this principle to a logical but uncomfortable extreme. He writes:
“For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” (1 Timothy 6:7-8)

Fighting for, pursuing, and embracing contentment always results in again. Every time. At multiple levels. And that brings us to the most important question.
How do you say “enough” in a world that has fine-tuned it’s messaging so as to make you continually dissatisfied with everything you currently own?

The answer is found in a single word. A word that works for us or against us. If you are carrying debt on something you wished you had never purchased, then you know all about this word and the power it wields. I’m convinced this single term holds the key to disarming discontentment.

‘Well, religion does make a person very rich, if he
is satisfied with what he has. What did we bring into the
world? Nothing! What can we take out of the world?
Nothing! So then, if we have food and clothes, that should
be enough for us. But those who want to get rich fall into
temptation and are caught in the trap of many foolish and
harmful desires, which pull them down to ruin and destruction.
For the love of money is a source of all kinds of evil.
Some have been so eager to have it that they have
wandered away from the faith and have broken their
hearts with many sorrows. ‘
1 Timothy 6:6-10

9) Honor God
When David called the Israelites together in Jerusalem to announce the plan to build the temple, the people were excited. Money started pouring in and their participation was heartfelt.
In the midst of all this euphoria, David prayed a prayer that gives us insight into his heart and perspective regarding life, God, and the purpose of money. Through this prayer, we discover the one primary objective that should guide the way we think about and handle our money. This mindset is the key to being good at being rich.

“Praise be to you, LORD, the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor. For everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head overall.” (1 Chronicle 29:11)

David was looking back over all that God had taken the Israelites through, and he concluded, “God, this is all about you. Everything belongs to you”. Next, he said:
“Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.” (1 Chronicle 29:12)

From David’s perspective, not only did God own all material things, but he was also the source of the things money can’t buy – things like honor and power and strength. David’s comment was meant to describe everything a person enjoys in life, as well as everything that enables our accomplishments.
In short, David was declaring that everything belongs to God, everything comes from God, and everything is dispensed by God. He concluded with this:
“Now, our God, we give you thanks and praise your glorious name. But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” (1 Chronicles 29:13-14)

What a perspective! David even considered himself unworthy of the opportunity to be generous. This mindset is just the opposite of what many rich people convey today. In contrast, they seem to say, “This is mine. I worked hard for this, and I’m entitled to do whatever I want with it.”

So if everything belongs to God, comes from God, and is dispensed by God, what should be the one thing that governs our approach to money?
As I think about that prayer, two words come to mind: Honor God. Those two words encapsulate all the things David declared about his riches. If you were to pursue only one goal for everything you possess, this should be it. Honor God. Serve that single objective and everything else automatically falls into place.

‘You are great and powerful, glorious, splendid, and
majestic. Everything in heaven and earth is yours, and
you are king, supreme ruler overall. All riches and
wealth come from you; you rule everything by your
strength and power, and you are able to make anyone
great and strong. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and
we praise your glorious name. “Yet my people and I
cannot really give you anything, because everything is a
gift from you, and we have only given back what is yours already. ‘
1 Chronicles 29:11-14

10) Treasures in Heaven
King David knew about honoring God with his stuff. He knew that his days were numbered. I don’t mean that he was about to die. But in the grand scheme of life, David had a limited amount of time with which to honor God. We all do. And David knew that whatever he did in this life was somehow connected to life in eternity.
In fact, if you look at Paul’s instructions to Timothy, he makes reference to this very same idea. He said:
“Command those who are rich in this present world …” (1 Timothy 6:17)

Did you catch that? In this present world? Why would Paul word it that way? Is there a non-present world? Like a future world? In this statement, the apostle Paul tips his hand to the fact that he believes there is more to this life than this life. He believes there is something beyond this life. And he’s not alone. Ninety-seven percent of Americans believe there is something beyond this life. There’s another world besides this present world. And even if someone’s rich in this world, it won’t last forever. Another world is coming right after it. So rather than carry on as nothing will ever change, rich people need to honor God with their stuff now. Because not only are they guarding against the side effects of wealth here, they’re actually laying up treasure in heaven for an age that is yet to come.

There are many theories to describe exactly what that looks like, but you can be sure of this: Jesus talked about this concept throughout the Gospels, so there’s little doubt that the degree to which we honor God during this age will impact our experience in the age to come.
Paul instructs Timothy to tell rich people that they get one opportunity to do good in such a way that they will impact their standing in the age to come. Don’t miss the opportunity.

When Jesus talked about it, he was very clear. He asked the question, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 8:36). In essence, he implored his followers to view wealth through the lens of eternity. That’s how David viewed it. And when we do the same, we lose our grip on wealth, and wealth loses its grip on us.

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