Jesus tells of a rich man who used all his resources on himself. He planned to tear down his barns and build bigger ones so he could store more for himself and take life easy. The scripture says this man is shortsighted. God says to him, "Tonight you will die. You have made your money, now who will get it" (Luke 12:20).
As is generally true for all of us, his handling of possessions was an outward, visible indicator of an inner spiritual condition. He was rich toward himself but not toward God.
No matter how wealthy one is in the things of this world, those material possessions are worthless in eternity. Jesus says, "Do not store up treasures on earth" (Matt. 6:19). Is that because accumulated wealth is bad? No! It is simply because it will not last. Any accumulations of wealth must keep that truth in perspective.
Proverbs 23:5 says, "Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle." Randy Alcorn, in his book The Treasure Principle, uses a beautiful analogy: "The next time you buy a prized possession, imagine it spouting wings and flying off. Sooner or later it WILL disappear."
Accumulated wealth will always leave us — either during life or at death. There are no exceptions to this.
Does this mean wealth is intrinsically bad? Absolutely not. The problem is our approach to it and use of it.
When we store wealth just for the sake of accumulating wealth, we are being shortsighted. When it is used to serve God and others, then we are building heavenly treasures.
This includes taking care of the needs of one's family, as we are admonished to do in 1 Timothy. This must be done with forethought to the future. At the same time, we must remember that it's only the heavenly treasures that will last forever. We need to make sure we are investing in something that has lasting value.
John Bunyon, in Pilgrim's Progress, echoes this biblical principle as he says, "Whatever good thing you do for Him, if done according to his Word, is laid up for you in treasure in chests and coffers, to be brought out to be rewarded both before men and angels, to your eternal comfort."
Don Spencer is Kentucky Baptist Convention Church Financial Benefits Counselor.