AN URGENT DANGER
D. M. PANTON, M. A.
- not only the desire of what we have not got, but the refusal to part with
what we have - God ranks among the blackest of sins. It is one of the
supreme Prohibitions of Jehovah (Ex. 20: 17);
it is defined by God as ‘idolatry’ (Col. 3: 5), a sin, under the Law, reserved for
capital punishment; it renders a [regenerate] believer so unholy that he is to be excommunicated
from the Church on earth (1 Cor.
5: 11); and twice (1Cor. 6: 10; Eph. 5: 5) it is stated as involving a disciple in the loss of the
Millennial Kingdom. "The peril
of the Church is not so much an unorthodox creed as an orthodox greed" (Dr. A. J. Gordon). Love
of money brought us the first awful discipline of the Holy Ghost (Acts 5: 5): love of money is the absorbing passion
of the last Church named in the Word of God -
THE MONEY CHEST
is extraordinarily significant that the last thing on which our Lord’s eyes
rested in the
"Verily I say unto you" - our Lord pledges Himself to the most startling of all revelations on money - "this poor widow cast in more than all": that is, more than any other donor, or else, more than all put together. Those who give most often give least, and those that give least often give most. Why? Because God judges what we give by what we keep. "For they all did cast in of their superfluity; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living." The widow had given all she had to live on for that day; and was so walking with God that she could trust Him for tomorrow’s meal. 1 Kings 17: 15; Hebrews 13: 5. God’s scales, in weighing gifts, also weigh what is not given: so, quite literally, the poorest can give more than the wealthiest, and all can give immense gifts: for the amount withheld exactly determines the value of the amount given.
We now arrive at the peril. "The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil" (1Tim. 6: 10). It can estrange friends, divide families, and harden hearts; nurse extravagance, pamper appetite, and foster pride; ‘sweat’ labour, freeze up charity, and indulge every lust - "foolish and hurtful lusts, such as drown men in destruction and perdition." Every year increases our peril. "In the last days men shall be lovers of money" (2 Tim. 3: 2): "ye have laid up treasure in the last days" (James 5: 3): "because thou sayest, I am rich, ... thou art miserable and poor and blind and naked" (Rev. 3: 17): "thus shall Babylon be cast down, for thy merchants were the princes of the earth" (Rev. 18: 23). "Of all the temptations none has so struck at the work of God as the deceitfulness of riches; a thousand melancholy proofs of which I have seen within these last fifty years. By riches I mean not thousands of pounds; but any more than will procure the conveniences of life. Money-lovers are the pest of every Christian society. They have been the main cause of the destruction of every revival. They will destroy us, if we do not put them away" (John Wesley). 1 Cor. 5: 11; Mark 10: 23.
How is the peril met? "Sell that ye have, and give alms; make for yourselves purses which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not" (Luke 12: 33). No warnings on wealth are severer than Christ’s: so there is no greater tribute to the power of money over the human heart than the startling silence of the Church on these warnings of her Lord. "With such words [as 1 Tim. 6: 6-10] before him, one would think that any Christian man who is laying up money, or is planning to do so, would at once abandon his project. But how many such cases have ever been heard of? I cannot remember one" (Dr. J. P. Gladstone). O beloved, the indestructible purses must be manufactured now! "Hearken, my beloved brethren; did not God choose them that are poor as to the world to be rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to them that love Him?" (James 2: 5). "The most sensitive part of the civilized man is his pocket" (Sir W. Ramsay): so grace is supreme when it is the biggest jewel in the purse. Heaven’s purses are filled by emptying those on earth.
"But thou, O man of God, flee these things!" What things? "They that desire to be rich" - fly even the desire! The man who has nothing to gain is the man who can never be bought: so if you would be the man of God - a man who belongs to God, who is devoted to God, whose wealth is in God, who lives for God - then flee these things. "I make no purse. What I have I give away. ‘Poor yet making many rich’ shall be my motto still" (Whitefield). Prov. 11: 24. The costliness of the gift is the measure of the love behind it: God did not keep back His Son when He loved the world: what God did not keep back was the measure of the love that He felt. So we! One of the Lord’s people, who had once been rich, was asked how he bore his poverty so happily. "When I was rich," he replies, "I had God in all my wealth: now, I have all my wealth in God." How much more he who has deliberately lodged it there! "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven. FOR WHERE THY TREASURE IS, THERE WILL THY HEART BE ALSO" (Matt. 6: 20).