“And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” (Matthew 13:22)
A little phrase in this verse has a big message — and it is something that we who live in the richest nation in the world would do well pay attention to: “the deceitfulness of wealth.” We should ask ourselves: WHY did Jesus call it “the DECEITFULNESS of wealth”? Why did He use that word to describe it? Because wealth is deceitful in a number of ways:
— Wealth is deceitful because people think if they just have it, it will make them happy, and it does NOT guarantee satisfaction at all! There are many people in our world who are very wealthy, but extremely unhappy. If they were counting on wealth to bring them happiness, they were deceived. We should beware of thinking that if we only had more wealth, we would truly be happy. That is a deceptive line of thinking which is intended to distract you from your walk with God, which is the only place you will find true satisfaction.
— Wealth is also deceitful because people who have it are often deceived into thinking that if they are well-off materially, that they must also be ok spiritually as well — when they are NOT! This is probably Jesus’ main point in the context of this parable: “the deceitfulness of wealth” chokes the word of God which is sown into a life — those who are rich often don’t feel like they need God’s word, so they ignore it. But the truth is, they need His salvation as much or more than those without money do.
— Similarly, wealth deceives many into thinking that they are wiser, or more spiritual, than they really ARE, simply because they have money. They think they couldn’t possibly be wrong; or less spiritual or closer to God than others, because look how well off they are! How many people have social, intellectual, and even a misplaced spiritual confidence, just because they have money? But they are misled. Their financial well-being has deceived them into thinking that they are better off in every way than they really are.
— Wealth is deceitful because it gives many a false sense of security. Proverbs 18:11 says “A rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and like a high wall — in his own imagination.” People with wealth often consider themselves to be safe; they don’t need to trust in the Lord; they have a big bank account! But it is deceitful; it can all be taken away in a moment! Their wealth cannot keep them from disaster; tragedy; illness & death; family problems. Their confidence is misplaced; often tragically so.
— Wealth — or the lack of it — can also be deceptive to those of us in God’s Kingdom work. We often feel so badly for those in Romania, or Mexico, or India — or here in the United States — who do not have some of our material blessings. It is good to have compassion for the material needs of people. But if we think that their greatest need is a nicer home, newer clothes, or the newest cell phone, we have ourselves been deceived. Their greatest need is not physical, but spiritual. In fact, the single greatest need of any person, rich or poor, is forgiveness and a changed life through Jesus Christ. Someone’s material status here on earth, whatever it is, is only temporary; while the state of their soul has eternal consequences.
Anything that diverts our attention from the spiritual need of our own soul, or of the souls of others, is deceiving us. In a materialistic society like ours, we will have to purposefully “swim upstream” to do it, but may God help us not to be taken in by the deceitfulness of wealth.