Riches are no Substitute for God

“The truth shall set you free.” John 8:31

No Self-indulgent living

The Jews Jesus addressed in John 8 did not see it as such, but freedom, that God-given privilege of each human being, was not given that men might indulge in self-centered living. Men were created to serve and love God.

Colossians 1:16 states the reason for God’s creation of man—

16 For by him [that is, “Christ”] all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. [emphasis mine]

Because man is created by God and for him, man cannot live rightly for a lesser purpose. Man cannot stoop to live for his own happiness when he was created to glorify and enjoy God forever.

Isobel Kuhn once related, “Mrs. McFarlane, principal of our language school in Yangchow and a dear warrior saint, had taught me [a] metaphor.” She said, “Keep your treasures on the open palm of your hand. If you hold something tight clenched in your fist, God may have to hurt you in order to open your fingers and take it from you. But if it is offered on the open palm of your hand, you will hardly know when it is gone.” (see Kuhn below)

Happiness cannot be our primary goal.

All earthly possessions are given to us by God. We are stewards of those gifts and out of them we give to God our tithes and offerings. As stewards, we are not to hoard things as if they are the ground of our happiness.


An early print of Scrooge as “the Miser.”

Happiness as a primary motive for living is an appetite which is never satisfied. For instance, John D. Rockefeller was once asked, “How much money is enough?” He replied, “Just a little bit more.”


A print of a family in a debtor’s prison for spending beyond their income.

No matter how much a person acquires and amasses of this world’s goods, it always takes “just a little bit more” to make him happy, if this is his primary motive for living. Nathaniel Hawthorne has correctly pointed out “happiness in this world, if it comes at all, comes incidentally. Make it the object of pursuit, and it leads [you] on a wild goose chase, and is never attained.” As we live underneath Christ’s Lordship, we discover what true freedom is. It is never freedom from God. It is freedom through service to God.


One website has prayers for all kinds of prosperity.

The false god of our age is “prosperity.”

If things satisfied, wouldn’t Americans be the most satisfied people on Earth? We have more stuff than any generation before ours. The overflow we deposit in rented public storage units. The stock market is up substantially, but we want it to go higher with no bursting bubble this time. Then what? What will we do with more? Will tomorrow’s more satisfy when today’s more hasn’t? (see Thomas below)

God’s truth sets us free. Hoarded possessions enslave us whether we have many or few. 

I once taught a college Bible course at an college extension center in Georgia. I noticed whenever I taught the janitor would clean just outside the door. Obviously he was listening.

During a break he approached me and asked a question. He inquired, “Doesn’t the Bible teach that rich people will not go to heaven?”

I suspected what he was getting at. Poor people will go to heaven. I gave him an answer he didn’t want to hear. “I have found that whether we have many or few possessions, holding on to them too tightly, will exclude us from receiving Christ as our Lord and Savior.” He never cleaned in the hall where I was teaching again.

Hoarded possessions enslave us whether we have many or few. 


Kuhn, Isobel. (2012). In the Arena. Accessed 10 December 2018 from

Thomas, Cal. (2015). A prescription for decline — worshiping the false gods of prosperity and money. Accessed 10 December 2018 from

© 2019 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved


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