Living Wisely #4: Godliness Over Gain

This here is a word sure to prick the hearts of many in the western world, for we are a society greedy with gain.  If godliness and gain were to be offered to you, what would you choose?  What would you see as of greatest significance?  Undoubtedly, many would choose gain – the treasures of the world.  This is because many live for the moment with no thought of what is to come.  They have received their reward.  On the contrary, the Scriptures speak of godliness with contentment as great gain:

Now 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 clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

1 Timothy 6:6-10

Strive for the riches of the world and you may indeed find them in your coffers.  Know this, however, when you depart from this world, they will become the spoils of another.  What good or pleasure can they then bring to you?  None.  “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26).  Elsewhere, Jesus spoke of storing up treasures in Heaven, not on earth (Matt. 6:19-21).  While money is a necessary means of exchange, and therefore ought to be earned through proper employment, to serve money is a thing in itself.  To live for money is to have misplaced desires.  God made us for His glory, and it is to Him that we must live.  We cannot serve God and riches (Matt. 6:24).  Be not fixated on the material, lest you lose sight of the spiritual and the eternal.  Everlasting pleasures are only found at the right hand of God (Ps. 16:11).  And who is at His right hand?  None other than the risen Lord, Jesus Christ.  These everlasting pleasures are blood-bought pleasures, reserved for those who trust in Him.

In Proverbs 1:10-19, we see that those who are greedy for gain lose that which is most precious – their souls.  Greed drives them to do what they may have once thought to be unthinkable: shedding innocent blood.  They will deceive, wound, and kill to gain that which is not theirs.  In the process they may be caught in their own trap, falling victim to like-minded criminals.  Though some may escape justice in this life, there will be no escape from God’s justice in the hereafter.

10 My son, if sinners entice you,
Do not consent.
11 If they say, “Come with us,
Let us lie in wait to shed blood;
Let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause;
12 Let us swallow them alive like Sheol,
And whole, like those who go down to the Pit;
13 We shall find all kinds of precious possessions,
We shall fill our houses with spoil;
14 Cast in your lot among us,
Let us all have one purse”—
15 My son, do not walk in the way with them,
Keep your foot from their path;
16 For their feet run to evil,
And they make haste to shed blood.
17 Surely, in vain the net is spread
In the sight of any bird;
18 But they lie in wait for their own blood,
They lurk secretly for their own lives.
19 So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain;
It takes away the life of its owners.

Proverbs 1:10-19

Government institutions exist to protect the life, liberty, and property of its citizens by punishing evildoers who transgress these rights (Rom. 13:3-4).  In other words, government exists to keep order in society.  However, the first order of government is self-government.  This means that the primary governing body in your life is yourself – the practice of self-control.  This is essentially what Solomon is instructing his son in: Show self-control when the luring pleasures of gain are presented to you.  Do not join in with the wicked.  Do not cave-in to the pressure of peers.  Their way is the way of death; choose life.  Indeed, choose godliness; for this is the way of wisdom.

Devotional Reading: Ps. 73