For those of you that don’t know, I just looked, and the jackpot for the Powerball lottery is $430,000,000.00 tonight. That could increase during the day, as more and more people purchase tickets. What would you do with that much money? Have you ever thought about it? I’m sure that the millions of people that buy tickets have thought about it. There will be people that just buy the tickets, as part of an entertaining game; and the other extreme is, that people will spend money they don’t have (and do without things they need). The thing that ties all of them together is the fascination of what it would be like to have that much money. Some of them will actually go beyond fascination, and it will turn into covetousness.
Our culture has fostered all of these feelings, as it has glamorized wealth, prosperity, and the lifestyle that they bring. Those in the advertising agency have recognized this for years! They advertise products that will give us a “taste”, or a “piece”, of what the good life is all about. Television shows feature those that have success financially, and materially; creating (whether it is intended or not) a desire in us, to have what they have. I believe that if you asked most young people (18 to 25) what is the American Dream, most all of their answers would include something about wealth and prosperity.
It seems to me, that there are elements of “Christianity” that have embraced the pursuit of wealth and prosperity, as a part of what Christianity is about. That God wants His people to have a really good life, and is desiring to bless them with those “things.” One of the verses that people use to support there efforts in accumulating things, and God helping them in that pursuit, is Philippians 4:13. We have heard this verse used to support, and explain; wealth, athletic achievement, and many other things. Rather than just pull that text out and quote it (for whatever you are trying to do), have you ever considered what the context is in Philippians 4. Listen to what Paul has to say:
I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that once again you renewed your care for me. You were, in fact, concerned about me but lacked the opportunity to show it. I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content — whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:10-13, HCSB)
In the context of Philippians 4, Paul is saying that it is through Christ that he can have the strength to be content, whatever his circumstances might be. Whether he has a little, or whether he has a lot; it is through the strength that Jesus supplies, that he can be content with what he has. Obviously, if he has a lot, it is not wrong to have the things of the world; but it is wrong, to allow the desires of this world to overwhelm and control any of us.
Satan has a really strong weapon in his arsenal — the desire to have the things of this world, to have the “good life.” It is not just manifested in the buying of a lottery ticket, going to a casino, or betting on a football game. There are times that it is manifested by the way we work — putting our job first (in order that we can have things), the way we treat people as we climb the ladder of success, and a lot of other actions in the pursuit of stuff. If we are not aware of that, and appropriate the strength that Jesus offers, we could lose to that desire. We can learn to be content, but it will come through the help of the Lord. Peace.