This morning, as I was reading God’s Word, a text stopped me, made me think and pray, and “wonder as I wander.” It is from a section in Deuteronomy where Moses is speaking to the Israelites before they enter the Promised Land. He reminds them of the blessings of obedience and the curses that come with disobedience. Moses writes in Deut. 28:47-48: “Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things, therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness, and lacking everything.”
Later, Jesus issued a similar command in Matthew 6:24: “No one 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.”
As I chewed on what Moses and Jesus were saying, some questions and thoughts ran through my head. Does this mean I have to sell everything? What about that IPad that I want? How much is enough?
Surely, Moses and Jesus are not saying that it is wrong to be rich. We know about Abraham and Job with all of their wealth. They were still righteous. There is also nothing wrong with the gifts that God gives us in life. There is also nothing wrong with money. It can be used for good things to help others.
So what are they saying?
Solomon also comes to mind. We know he was rich beyond belief. We also know that those riches and the women that he married led him away from God. Then there is the rich man who was given the opportunity to have Jesus and treasure in heaven but could not give up the things that Jesus asked him to give up.
As I look again at what Moses said, I realize that “things” have the potential of leading us away from that joyful serving of the Lord. They can tempt us away from following Jesus. They can become powerful enemies against our love for God. When that happens, God will give us what we think we want. We will see what it’s like to serve them rather than God.
I can’t help but think of a tombstone in Woburn, Massachusetts. I don’t remember the person’s name or even if there was an epitaph. I do remember the pictures that were etched into the tombstone. Apparently, this person was a gambler of sorts, because there were two pictures: a lottery scratch card and a slot machine. What made it worse was that both pictures revealed that the dead person lost. No million dollar winner here. Just a commentary on what the love of money did to this person. Like the rich man who met Jesus, he tried for the riches of the world instead of the treasure in heaven. He got what he wanted…I guess.
Photo by Dave Gilbert