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“… and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.” (Mat 13:22)

I have always pondered on the reasons why Jesus would call riches deceitful. Why would riches
be linked with deceit? According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, deceitfulness is defined as
‘having a tendency or disposition to deceive’. Why do riches have a tendency to deceive? Let
examine the stories of 2 rich men in the bible – both accounts in the Book of Luke.
The first story I would like to share starts with an aggrieved brother seeking for his rights to his
own share of his father’s estate.
A man in a crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, tell my brother to give me my share
of what our father left us when he died." (Luk 12:13 CEV)

Now it clear from this verse that this man had a legitimate claim and he felt Jesus could use his
moral (or whatever) influence to help him to what was rightly his. One would expect Jesus to
probably follow him to get justice but the response was a ‘little shocking’ and ‘off-the-mark’.
Jesus answered, "Who gave me the right to settle arguments between you and
your brother?" Then he said to the crowd, "Don't be greedy! Owning a lot of
things won't make your life safe." (Luk 12:14-15 CEV)

It now seemed that Jesus was addressing a deeper problem than the problem this man was
facing. From his response, this man had to deal with thinking his security in life was tied to his
inheritance. Jesus was saying that thinking this way was dangerous! He goes ahead to tell a story
to illustrate that point.
So Jesus told them this story: A rich man's farm produced a big crop, and he
said to himself, "What can I do? I don't have a place large enough to store
everything." Later, he said, "Now I know what I'll do. I'll tear down my barns
and build bigger ones, where I can store all my grain and other goods. Then I'll
say to myself, 'You have stored up enough good things to last for years to come.
Live it up! Eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.' " But God said to him, "You fool!
Tonight you will die. Then who will get what you have stored up?" "This is what
happens to people who store up everything for themselves, but are poor in the
sight of God." (Luk 12:16-21 CEV)

People who have often come across this story always ask this rich man did to deserve God’s
wrath. Please let note that this man got his wealth genuinely. He planted and got a good harvest. Page | 2
Was God angry because he had a good season? Was God angry because he was wanted to expand
his business (or infrastructure)? Was God angry because he wanted to enjoy the labour of his
hands? Now let us personalize these questions. Is God angry when my business or career
experiences a boom? Is God angry when I intend to expand my business or further my career? Is
God angry when I just want to relax and enjoy the labour of my hands?
Several scriptures support the fact that:
1. God wants us to experience boom in our business and career
 “… The LORD blesses everyone who worships him and gladly obeys his
teachings. Their descendants will have great power in the land, because the
LORD blesses all who do right. They will get rich and prosper and will
always be remembered for their fairness. (Psalms 112:1-3 CEV)

2. God wants us to relax and enjoy our labour

 What is the best thing to do in the short life that God has given us? I think we
should enjoy eating, drinking, and working hard. This is what God intends
for us to do. Ecc 5:18

Then why was God furious with this rich man? Why was he called the (rich) fool? The answer is
simple: he trusted in his wealth and NOT in God. Check the motive behind this statement again:
may God give you insight.
Then I'll say to myself, 'You have stored up enough good things to last for
years to come. Live it up! Eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.'

His security was embedded in what he had stored up – not in God. He had a big fat bank
balance. A colleague in the office once said if you had 1 billion dollars in your account, for it to
finish, you will have to spend a million every day for about 3 years. Some say with that kind of
money you will never have to beg again. Others call it financial security. God calls it idolatry and
pride. Such people may pray: ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ but in their hearts they may be
saying: ‘Even if you don’t give us that bread we have bags of rice in the store’. Before your
blood gets hot let this truth sink into your heart.
God never said you should not have wealth – He just said you must never trust it!

Let quickly go through scripture to ascertain this truth.

Warn the rich people of this world not to be proud or to trust in wealth that is Page | 3

easily lost. Tell them to have faith in God, who is rich and blesses us with
everything we need to enjoy life. Instruct them to do as many good deeds as
they can and to help everyone. Remind the rich to be generous and share what
they have. This will lay a solid foundation for the future, so that they will know
what true life is like. (1Ti 6:17-19 CEV)

Job was the one of richest men of his time. See what he said:
I have never trusted the power of wealth, or taken pride in owning many
possessions... Such horrible sins would have deserved punishment from God.
(Job 31:24-28 CEV)

Your life is not defined by your bank balance. It is defined by God at work in your life.
“…Owning a lot of things won't make your life safe” Luke 12:15. People plunge into greed
believing that the more they have or conserve the more secure and stable their lives. That
Look at the birds in the sky! They don't plant or harvest. They don't even store
grain in barns. Yet your Father in heaven takes care of them. Aren't you worth
more than birds? (Mat 6:26 CEV)

This rich man planted. He harvested into barns. And he thought he could take care of himself!
That why people want to be rich at all costs! ‘Make the money’, they say, ‘and you are made’.
After all, “… money answereth all things.” Ecc 10:19. This is not the balanced gospel!

… These people think religion is supposed to make you rich. And religion does
make your life rich, by making you content with what you have. We didn't bring
anything into this world, and we won't take anything with us when we leave. So
we should be satisfied just to have food and clothes. People who want to be rich
fall into all sorts of temptations and traps. They are caught by foolish and
harmful desires that drag them down and destroy them. The love of money
causes all kinds of trouble. Some people want money so much that they have
given up their faith and caused themselves a lot of pain. (1Ti 6:5-10 CEV)
Is anything wrong in being rich? No!
Abram was very rich. He owned many cattle, sheep, and goats, and had a lot of
silver and gold. Gen 13:2

God speaking to Solomon: “I'll also give you what you didn't ask for. You'll be Page | 4
rich and respected as long as you live, and you'll be greater than any other
king”. 1Ki 3:13

The list could go on and on – the basic lesson here is this – riches are not are the end or means
they are the by-products. You should never use God to get money because God becomes the
pencil and you become the artist! Then you can never use money to get God – he said the “the
silver is mine and the gold is mine” – so you want to buy God?
Now let us visit the case of the second rich man – and see this recurring error…
And a certain ruler asked Him, saying, Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit
eternal life? (Luke 18:18 MKJV)

This came to Jesus for something very important. He had foresight. He was deep. While he was
living, he thought about the other life. This man was a rare gem – many men don’t think this
way! So Jesus confronted him with issues that many of us who rather avoid.
You know the commandments: 'Be faithful in marriage. Do not murder. Do not
steal. Do not tell lies about others. Respect your father and mother.' " He told
Jesus, "I have obeyed all these commandments since I was a young man." (Luk
18:20-21 CEV)

How many men are faithful in marriage? How men don’t steal from public and private coffers?
How many men respect their parents? In all moral issues – this man seemed to be straight. This
is the kind of man most women would dream to marry – God-fearing, rich, faithful and honest
leader. He was well brought up and refined. What could be possibly wrong with this man? It
seemed it was sure he would get this eternal life – until Jesus dropped the bomb shell!
When Jesus heard this, he said, "There is one thing you still need to do. Go and
sell everything you own! Give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in
heaven. Then come and be my follower." When the man heard this, he was sad,
because he was very rich. (Luk 18:22-23 CEV)

This man had obeyed all the commandments yet he could not obey THE command. Why? Jesus
was asking him to take off his back-up. Now ponder on this for a minute! God asks you to take
all you have built over years and give it to the poor! God is saying start again with me. How
many ministers of God would walk away from ministry that they have built with their blood and
tears and start over with God? How millionaires would let go their empires and begin with God?
How many people would be willing to walk away provided they would be walking with God? Do
you see how riches create a false sense of security? Do you see the deceitfulness of riches?
We have studied 2 different rich men with the same problem: their wealth was their back-up and Page | 5
not God! Bible scholars usually call the first man, the rich fool! But how many times have we
been as foolish as he was! Whenever your security and identity is defined by your bank balance,
the number of resources at your disposal, then the bible says you are a fool!
Workers may or may not have enough to eat, but at least they can get a good
night's sleep. The rich, however, have so much that they stay awake worrying.
(Ecc 5:12 GNB)

Why do the rich find it difficult to sleep? They have to maintain their security. If they have been
poor before they don’t want to go back there. Once there is a dip in their income their blood
pressure goes up.
Let your way of life be without the love of money, and be content with such
things as you have, for He has said, "Not at all will I leave you, not at all will I
forsake you, never!" (Heb 13:5 MKJV)

God is all you need – recession or no recession. Today people begin to think the spirit of
contentment is the spirit of a mediocre. There is a speed limit in the kingdom of God! You
should run with God not behind or in front.
You, LORD, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm and put
their trust in you. (Isaiah 26:3 GNB)

When last did financial matters seize your peace? When last did you have perfect peace – not the
type the world gives (peace that is based on financial reports and the news). Trust in God is the
foundation of the peace of God.
“I have spoken these things to you so that you might have peace in Me”. (John
16:33 MKJV)

Riches are deceitful – like any deceitful friend I would not trust it. It is useful but it cannot be
trusted. Many verses of scripture attest to this. Please read, meditate and understand.
Those who trust in their wealth, and their many riches, boast themselves... Their
inward thought is that their houses shall go on forever, and their dwelling-
places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names. (Psa 49:6-
11 MKJV)

Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set
not your heart upon them. (Psalms 62:10 KJV) Page | 6

He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a
branch. (Proverbs 11:28 KJV)

So says Jehovah, Do not let the wise glory in his wisdom, nor let the mighty
glory in his might; do not let the rich glory in his riches; but let him who glories
glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am Jehovah, doing
kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth; for in these I delight, says
Jehovah. (Jeremiah 9:23-24 MKJV)

May this never be your testimony:

Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength; but trusted in the abundance
of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness. (Psalms 52:7 KJV)

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