Meet the poorest people on earth

Last week, we talked about the richest people on earth, those who have godliness with contentment, who know that what they brought into the world is exactly what they will carry out. Who, then, are the poorest people on earth? The Bible makes that equally clear: Those who desire to be rich because of greed, who have a love for money. A story in the Old Testament illustrates the pitfalls that accompany a pursuit of possessions.
Elisha, the prophet of God, told Naaman the Syrian commander how he could be cured of leprosy. Grateful for God’s intervention, Naaman offered Elisha a big payoff, which the prophet promptly refused. Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, thinking his master had lost his mind, went to find Naaman in secret and lied to him, saying that Elisha had changed his mind and really did fancy the goods that the commander could offer. Naaman gladly gave Gehazi some nice stuff, which the sly servant stashed in secret. When Gehazi returned to his master, Elisha said, “Where did you go, Gehazi?” Gehazi lied like a child: “I didn’t go anywhere.” Elisha told his servant everything Gehazi had just done, and said that because Gehazi had taken things from Naaman when it was not time to receive such, now Gehazi would receive something he and his descendants did not want — leprosy. “Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and to your descendants forever.”
Two things stand out to me from this story in 2 Kings 5. First, greed always has traveling companions, and they are usually lying or lust. Remember the definition of an idol? It is something we are willing to sin to get. If we have a desire to be rich, the Bible teaches that we will be willing to compromise the truth in order to get what we want. Second, when we desire to be rich and we get what we want, we also get what we don’t want. Paul says it clearly in 1 Timothy: A desire for riches leads to “many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.” A love for money leads you to go places you would not ordinarily go, and do things you would not ordinarily do. A love for money also leads you to form alliances with people you would normally avoid.
So, the question some of you may be asking yourself is this: How do I know if I have a love for money? I give Alistair Begg credit for this list of questions, though I have added a few of my own. Here are 10 indications that I may love money more than I should:
When thoughts of money consume my day. When I am always on the lookout for the latest get-rich-quick scheme. When the financial success of others makes me jealous. When I find myself looking down on those who have less than I have. When I am tempted to define success in terms of what I have rather than who I am in Christ. When my family is neglected in my pursuit of money. When I close my eyes to the genuine needs of others. When I live in the paralyzing fear of losing my money. When I am prepared to borrow myself into bondage. When God receives my leftovers rather than my first fruits. These are the poorest people on earth. Do you see yourself in that list? Then there is hope for you to get off the track you are on and become one of the richest.

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