Wealth, Power, Lures, & Bribery

August 18, 2012

Wealth may entertain us, or help to keep us comfortable or well fed, or it may buy us friends (usually fickle ones), or it may bring us laughter or fun for a while, or it may even prolong our earthly life. However, wealth very rarely brings us true love, true satisfaction, true fulfillment, true contentment, true wisdom, or true anything. It does not, and cannot, bring us true life. In fact, it usually brings us much the opposite –a world of sorrow. (1 Tim. 6:9,10)

Wealth can be used to further Christ’s Kingdom, but because it is so able to mesmerize, it actually leads most people away from God. It is impossible to serve both God and money. (Luke 16:13) If God allows us to have it and to increase in wealth, we must use it exactly the way He tells us to, or He will likely sweep it away Himself. He does this out of love, for if He would not, we would continue down the road of idolatry, eventually winding up in Hell. So God intervenes. And if we take notice and realize that He brought us the devastation so that we would wake up, come back to our senses, repent, learn from the discipline, follow Him in spite of our poverty and disgrace, He will soon show us great compassion and turn and honor us, reward us, and bring us the kind of blessings that money could never buy. The sum of these blessings is just this: Intimate friendship with the King of kings Himself.

Therefore, let’s be very careful when wealth tries to lure us down its road. Yes, it looks like a dazzling, happy, easy path, but it is not. The glitter and charm are always just coverings, snares, hooks, webs… Underneath are pits of grief and pain.

Job 36:19 asks, “Would your wealth or even all your mighty efforts sustain you so you would not be in distress?” In other words, can a person’s wealth, or even his power derived through wealth, keep him from calamity or heartbreak? Can it buy back love? Can it prevent a divorce? Can it make a rebel into a righteous man? Can it change a self-centered person into an other-centered person? Can it bring peace and contentment to a restless soul? Can it bring rebirth and eternal salvation?

We could question those who have, in their lifetimes, accumulated wealth and power, what good and righteous things it has brought to them. We could ask if their money has been able to save them from long-term distress. We could ask those who have stepped on others, lied, and deceived in order to get what they got. We could ask those who have used their positions, beauty, wit, education, or tongues to betray, to ruin, to fight, and to steal what belonged to others –so as to increase their wealth. What lasting, worthy thing did it really accomplish for them? What contentment have they experienced? Do they still feel proud of themselves as they lie on their death beds, as they think back over what they did with their lives, what they made from their lives? Has their wealth really made them the envy of good people, or just the envy of the rest of the selfish multitudes? Did it bring them praise from their spouse or their children? Did they make their parents proud –or ashamed? Did they use their wealth and power to alleviate some of the pain in the world –or to create more?

No, wealth is rarely for the godly. For the godly have learned that giving up all is what Christ commands (Luke 14:26,27,33), and that He commands this because He knows it is the only way to true life, true joy. Therefore, should a nice-looking bribe be set before us, even a large and enticing bribe, we cannot let it turn us aside. To turn aside to take it, is to follow it. And to follow it is to turn completely around from following Christ.

I have a note in my Bible at Job 36:18, dated 2/13/08. The verse says, “Be careful that no one entices you by riches; do not let a large bribe turn you aside.” God gave me this verse, along with verse 19 which I quoted above, plus verses 16-21, as such loud warnings, that there was no way I could not know it was Him. And though I had no idea what He meant at the time, the bribe did come –and several times. But what made me not fall for it time and again? My own smarts? Not quite, for I didn’t see the pits under the nets. Instead, the only thing that kept me from the deception was that God had told me ahead of time to be careful –careful of a large bribe (v. 18), and careful of turning to evil to avoid affliction. (v. 21) Where did I hear God’s warning for my situation? In His Word. I heard it by His Spirit in the Word. But had I not been in the habit of seeking God’s will, voice, and instructions in His Word, I am fully convinced that I would right now be in one of the most horrendous sorrows of my life.

The bribe didn’t appear to be a bribe. The lure didn’t appear to be about money or about evil. The path looked like a way out of my hardship. But God warned me. He warned me to follow Him, to trust Him, to not trust myself or what I thought I was seeing. I listened to God. I listened to His Word. I obeyed His instructions to me. (Truly, “God is exalted in His power. Who is a teacher like Him?” –v. 22) And though I didn’t know fully what He was saying, and I was groping like in a dark tunnel, I strove hard to keep my ears finely tuned, and I made it out safely. Are there more tunnels? Yes. But I’ve learned to trust the God who cherishes me –He who is bringing me more and more joy (no matter what afflictions come with it) and more and more of Himself, His love, and His friendship. In the end, may I… may we all… be found by Him to have stayed so close to His Word, that riches, wealth, money, power-trips, bribery… none of it could’ve had even a remote chance at ever turning us aside.

Therefore, “choose now whom you will serve… but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Josh. 24:15) By choosing now and with finality, we will be kept safe from the traps, the temptations, and the large and magnificent bribes.

with love,

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