So many times when we approach the idea of wealth, or at least the desire to be wealthy, it is in a negative sense. There is a two-fold reason for this. First, the Bible repeatedly warns believers about desiring to be rich. Some examples of this can be seen in:
1 Timothy 6:9 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.
Hebrews 13:5 Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,”
Luke 12:15 Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”
Let’s be clear, the Bible is not against rich people, nor against those who are prospering and being good stewards over their money. The problem comes when wealth and riches take a foothold in our heart. When money is no longer a tool, but a goal, and (we believe) the source of our happiness and confidence.
Secondly, the reason we caution so greatly against the desire for wealth on this site is because there are so many areas of Christendom that speak directly against these warnings the Bible give. People are taught to go after riches, and are even taught that their wealth and success are directly tied to their faith, thereby implying that one’s favor before God is equated to the level of one’s income.
We could discuss those things further, but it has always been my contention that when it comes to our finances (and every other area of life), our character is the real issue. What is happening inside our hearts?
As I was scrolling through our Netflix listings the other day to see what was recently added, I saw a show that I thought would be of interest to Khaleef and myself called “Extreme Cheapskates”. As we watched, there were many things that stood out about the participants (whether by the show’s design or their true nature) that we commented on; but there was a common thread among most of the people on the show that was noticeable – their pride.
For these participants, their frugal ways weren’t a matter of doing what’s best for their families or carrying on learned behavior or psychological tendencies – they displayed a posture of being better than everyone else because of the ways they were outsmarting the “system” or other people.
There was one gentleman who cared more about his frugal ways than the way it affected his really gracious wife. She asked that he not approach strangers for their left-over food for just one night (their anniversary); but before their meal was done he was begging at another table, and she was out the door because of shame.
As I pondered the behavior we saw, and there’s no denying some of it was for the shock and entertainment value, I reflected on: what was being displayed before me, things I have thought or done myself, and the behavior of people I’ve known.
Just as easy as it has been for people to say,”Look at what I’ve bought!” or “Look what I’ve done!” – it’s been just as easy to say, “Look how I outsmarted the salesman!” or “Look how much I’ve saved!”
The one scripture that comes to mind is Jeremiah 29:23-24
23 Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches;
24 but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises loving-kindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord.
It’s remarkable, looking at it now, that even before calling out the rich man, the verse starts with the wise man. Even when we are wiser in our decisions, what are our motives when we share those truths with others? What is in our hearts? How much pride do we take in what we say. Do we say,”Look how brilliant I am?”
1 John 2:16 teaches “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world“. The boastful pride of life can do with how much we preserve and save in the same way it can mean what we earn, consume, and purchase to show for it.
It has been a very humbling lesson to learn that even in frugality and wisdom there can be an extreme. In anything on this earth, we can find a way to sin and be dishonoring to the God who gives us everything. In times of plenty and times of lack, my prayer is that I will be grateful and humble.
Have you noticed any prideful tendencies in unexpected areas/ways? How do you address issues of pride in your own life?