The Review and Herald


March 4, 1880

Deceitfulness of Riches


Many who profess the special truths for our time, have not a proper discernment of character. They fail to appreciate moral worth. They may boast much of their fidelity to the cause of God, and their knowledge of the Scriptures; but they are not humble in heart. They have a special regard for those who are wealthy and prosperous, forgetting that riches do not give man favor with God. True excellence of character is frequently overlooked, if possessed by the poor man. Money sways a mighty influence. But does God care for money—for property? The cattle upon a thousand hills are his,—the world and all that is therein. The inhabitants of the earth are as grasshoppers before him; and the nations, with all their riches, “are counted as the small dust of the balance.” He is no respecter of persons. Yet men of property have often looked upon their possessions and said, By my wisdom have I gotten me this wealth. But who gave them power to get wealth? God has bestowed upon them the ability which they possess; and instead of giving him the glory, they take it to themselves. He will prove them and try them, and will bring their glorying to the dust; he will remove their strength and scatter their possessions. Instead of a blessing, they will realize a curse. RH March 4, 1880, par. 1

An act of wrong, or of oppression, any deviation from the right way, should be as promptly condemned in the rich as in the poor. All the riches that the most wealthy ever possessed will not be of sufficient value to cover the smallest sin before God. Repentance, true humility, a broken heart and a contrite spirit, alone will be accepted of him. RH March 4, 1880, par. 2

Many rich men have obtained their wealth by close dealing with their fellow-men, by overreaching in trade, to advantage themselves at the loss of others; and then they glory in their shrewdness, and keenness in a bargain. But the curse of God will rest upon every dollar thus obtained, and upon the increase of it on their hands. RH March 4, 1880, par. 3

How forcible are the words of our Saviour, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Those who possess the ability to acquire property, unless constantly on the watch, will be led by their acquisitiveness to sacrifice the generous, benevolent, noble principles of their manhood for sordid gain. RH March 4, 1880, par. 4

Many have been corrupted by the spirit and influence of the world. Their characters are becoming more and more unlike the divine model. They are being transformed to become instruments of unrighteousness. In striking contrast with this class are those industrious, honest, poor men, who ever stand ready to help the needy; who would rather suffer themselves to be defrauded by their wealthy brethren than to manifest so close and acquisitive a spirit as they manifest; who esteem a clear conscience, and integrity, even in little things, of greater value than riches. They are so ready to help others, so willing to do all the good in their power, that they do not accumulate; their earthly possessions do not increase. If there is a benevolent object to call forth means or labor, they are the first to be interested in it and to respond to it, and will frequently go far beyond their real ability, denying themselves some needed good, to carry out their benevolent purposes. RH March 4, 1880, par. 5

Because such persons can boast of but little earthly treasure, they are often looked upon as deficient in ability and judgment, and are lightly esteemed even by their brethren. But how does God regard these poor, wise men? In his sight they are precious; and although not increasing their treasure upon earth, they are laying up for themselves a treasure in the heavens which is incorruptible. In so doing they manifest a wisdom as far superior to that of the wise, calculating, acquisitive, professed Christian, as the divine and godlike is superior to the earthly, carnal, and satanic. It is moral worth that God values. A Christian character untarnished with avarice, possessing quietness, meekness, and humility, is more precious in the sight of God than the most fine gold, even the golden wedge of Ophir. RH March 4, 1880, par. 6

Wealthy men are to be tested more closely than they ever yet have been. If they overcome their defects of character, and as faithful stewards of Jesus Christ render to God the things that are God's, to them it will be said, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” RH March 4, 1880, par. 7

The parable of the unjust steward is to the point. “And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much; and he that is unjust in the least, is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?” RH March 4, 1880, par. 8

God has committed to his stewards means to be used in doing good, and thus securing a treasure in Heaven. But if, like the man who had one talent, they hide their means, fearing that God will receive that which belongs to him, they will not only lose the increase which will finally be awarded the faithful steward, but also the principal which God gave them to work upon. They have not only neglected to lay up treasure in Heaven, but have also lost their earthly treasure. They have no habitation on earth, and no friend in Heaven to receive them into the everlasting habitation of the righteous. RH March 4, 1880, par. 9

Christ declares that “no servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon,”—cannot serve God and earthly riches too. “The Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things, and they derided him.” Mark the words of Christ to them: “Ye are they who justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men [riches acquired by oppression, by deception, by overreaching, by fraud, or in any dishonest manner], is abomination in the sight of God.” Then Christ presents the two characters, the rich man who was clothed with purple and fine linen, and who fared sumptuously every day, and Lazarus, who was in abject poverty, and loathsome to the sight, and who begged the few crumbs which the rich man despised. Our Saviour shows his estimate of the two. Lazarus, although in so deplorable a condition, had true faith, true moral worth, which God sees, and which he considers of so great value that he takes this poor, despised sufferer, and places him in the most exalted position, while the honored and wealthy ease-loving rich man is thrust out from the presence of God, and is plunged into misery and woe unutterable. In the sight of God this wealthy man was of no value, because he had not true moral worth. His riches did not recommend him to God. RH March 4, 1880, par. 10

By this parable Christ would teach his disciples to shun the course pursued by the Pharisees, who judged or valued men by their wealth, or by the worldly honors they received. He showed that some who possessed both riches and worldly honor were of no esteem in the sight of God; more than this, they were despised and rejected,—cast out from his sight as disgusting to him, because there was no moral worth or soundness in them. They were corrupt, sinful, and abominable before him. RH March 4, 1880, par. 11

In Paul's charge to Timothy he warns him of a class who will not consent to wholesome words, but who place a wrong estimate on riches. He says: “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness; from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment, let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” RH March 4, 1880, par. 12

The great apostle, in his letter to Timothy, would impress upon his mind the necessity of giving such instruction as should remove the deception which so easily steals upon the rich, that because of their ability to acquire wealth, they are superior in wisdom and judgment to those who are in poverty; that gain is godliness. They flatter themselves that because of their wealth they are especially favored of God. Here is the fearful deception. RH March 4, 1880, par. 13

Individuals may devote their whole lives to the one object of acquiring riches, yet as they brought nothing into the world, they can carry nothing out. They must die and leave that which cost them so much labor to obtain. They stake their eternal interest, to obtain a little of this world, and lose both worlds. But some are determined to be rich; it is their constant study; and in their zeal, eternal considerations are overlooked. In the pursuit of wealth, they are blinded by Satan, and made to believe that their motives are good. Thus many have “erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” They have sacrificed noble, elevated principles, given up their faith for riches; and if not disappointed in their object, they are disappointed in the happiness they supposed wealth would bring. They are burdened with care and perplexity; they are slaves to avarice themselves, their families are compelled to the same bondage, with only the advantage of reaping “many sorrows.” RH March 4, 1880, par. 14

The apostle shows the only true use for riches, and bids Timothy charge the rich to do good, to be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; for in so doing they are laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come,—referring to the close of time,—that they may lay hold on eternal life. The teachings of Paul harmonize perfectly with the words of Christ, “Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail they may receive you into everlasting habitations.” Godliness with contentment is great gain. Here is the true secret of happiness, and real prosperity of soul and body. RH March 4, 1880, par. 15