Peter Koole is an elder in Hope Prot. Ref. Church, Walker, Michigan.
Instant cash! Instant riches! Buy a ticket for only a dollar—rub the surface with a coin—match up the same symbols and/or numbers—and you, too, can be on your way to becoming independently wealthy; in fact, a millionaire.
Sounds very inviting, doesn’t it? Have you ever fantasized what you would or could do with a million dollars won with a lottery ticket?
The lottery and its likes are surely to be condemned. The same is to be said of Las Vegas with its possible high winnings by playing the slot machines, blackjack, and various card and dice games that are offered.
But what about what we sometimes consider to be penny-ante stuff, such as check, baseball, or football pool, nickel and dime poker, etc.? Consistency, thou art a jewel! And on the basis of the principle, they also have to be condemned and labeled as gambling.
Allow me to quote in part Lord’s Day 42, (Q. and A. 110: “What doth God forbid in the eighth commandment? God forbids not only those thefts, and robberies . . . but he comprehends under the name of thefts all wicked tricks and devices whereby we design to appropriate to ourselves the goods which belong to our neighbor . . . as by unjust weights, ells, measures, fraudulent merchandise, false coins, usury or by any other way forbidden by God, as also all covetousness, all abuse and waste of his gifts.” It is not for naught that we read in I Timothy 6:10, “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.”
As is plain to see in this quotation from Scripture, the root of all evil is the love of money: the strong all-compelling desire and drive to be rich, to be totally immersed in material goods. Thus, the love of money not merely signifies the sinful lust for gaining money in all possible ways, but also the deepest desire and intent of keeping it all for one’s self and/or his immediate family. Whoever thirsts after money and sets that up as his or her god, departs from the faith and pierces him- or herself through with many sorrows. For if one gains the whole world and loses his own soul, what doth it profit him? A man cannot serve two masters—God and Mammon. Mammon is money. We can become a slave to money, and that in turn can become our master, controlling our desires and lusts.
We know from Psalm 73 that the Lord sets the wicked in slippery places; and He often does that through his prosperity and much possessions. But, much to our shame, we also have the strong inclination at times to use the same sliding board.
Today the chief topic of discussion by the government through the media is inflation. What can be done to stop it? Really not a whole lot . . . except maybe some short-term stopgap measures. But in the long run and because of the sinful, greedy nature of man on all levels and in every department, greed and lust will devour and destroy his so-called self-planned economy system. Some day sooner than we think, one world-power will sit on the throne to usher in the Antichrist.
The average man views worldly goods in terms of money, which is the means to obtain other goods. Money is a symbol, and its importance has a universal attachment.
We live surrounded by our possessions. We glow in the enjoyment thereof, and boast in the satisfaction they provide. We become so materialistically minded and pleasure-mad that we seemingly lose our sense of direction as laid down in Scripture.
Today more than ever before it is necessary for us as Christians to learn to detach ourselves from the worship of things for their own sake. The tendency of the age is to instill the idea that happiness consists in material goods, pleasure, and recreation.
On a personal note, I just retired from a factory after working there 36 years, 2 months, and 8 days. For some 25 years we made organs and pianos; but at the present time, because of a seriously depressed market in the musical instrument field, the manufacturing of such items is almost nothing. Why? Because people are spectators and no longer participants. They don’t care to apply themselves and to learn to play. They want to watch and spend money for sporting events, TV, video, etc. People’s sense of values and priorities has changed; and, sad to say, we have been swept along, instead of combating the trend of the age. And as for giving, our human nature prefers to keep what we have and to part with as little as possible.
But we are faced with a divine law and Scriptural principles which disturb us, because they have a different scale of values. Yet still we insist on asking ourselves not, “How much can I give?” but, “How much may I keep without violating the law and principle of giving liberally and cheerfully?”
The life to which Christ calls us is a life of wholeheartedness; and wholeheartedness is incompatible with the constant calculation of the extent of our obligation. In practice, our natural man calculates only when it is a question of giving. When it is a question of adding to what we have, we fall to every form of covetousness. Consequently, for all of us the question is not, “How much ought I to give?” but, “Am I giving enough?” Most of us, including myself, give from our surplus. If the truth would be told, and bank books exposed, a lot of Christian causes would have a surplus instead of a deficit.
In the language of theology, love of money is a serious sin, because it separates the mind and heart from God.
For the first time in history a comfortable standard of living is within reach of all. In former days luxury was enjoyed by the privileged few. The means of raising the general standard of living were limited in the extreme. Today life has been made pleasant and easier by the means of mass production.
Comforts have an irresistible attraction for all of us, and sometimes we are obsessed to procure them. Maybe that’s one reason so many wives and mothers are out working when they should be at home. That last remark is only an observation, not an accusation.
A Christian who cares for spiritual values and is concerned to be of use in the home, church, and school will make use of monies and time not only for him- or herself, but also for the promotion and well-being of others.
Christ was accused both of worldliness and unworldliness. He loved the poor, and did not refuse the hospitality of the rich. In the Gospels we meet rich men who are also good men, whose wealth is not made a subject of reproach. At the very outset, we meet the wisemen, persons of rank and birth, who brought their costly gifts as an offering to the infant Jesus. Among other rich men, we might mention Zaccheus and Joseph of Arimathea. Indeed, in everyday life Christ seems to take little interest in the question of riches, although at times He sharply rebukes those who put their trust in them. He mingles equally with the rich and poor, and His feelings in each case are governed by the spirituality of the individual. Christ, as we know about Him and read about Him, was not a social reformer. He passes no judgment on the distribution of wealth—only that the poor widow gave more than they all who gave of their abundance. He does not criticize the establishment; He is not interested in condemning or reforming the structure of society. He speaks to the heart and soul of men. He takes society as it is, and requires His disciples to serve God and separate themselves from the world.
But He believed and taught that riches can be a hindrance to a godly life. For He said that where your treasure-house is, there your heart is also.