Biblical Thematic Outline: Dangers of riches


Material wealth can be a source of both physical and spiritual danger, against which believers are clearly warned to be on their guard.

Article I.           Riches are spiritually dangerous

Section 1.01 Love of riches a root of many evils

(a)     1 Ti 6:10

(b)    1 Timothy 6:10 (ESV) — 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

(c)     See also Jos 7:11 ; Jos 7:20–21 ; 1 Ti 3:3

(d)    Joshua 7:11 (ESV) — 11 Israel has sinned; they have transgressed my covenant that I commanded them; they have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen and lied and put them among their own belongings.

(e)     Joshua 7:20–21 (ESV) — 20 And Achan answered Joshua, “Truly I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I did: 21 when I saw among the spoil a beautiful cloak from Shinar, and 200 shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, then I coveted them and took them. And see, they are hidden in the earth inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”

(f)      1 Timothy 3:3 (ESV) — 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.

Section 1.02 They may lead to divided loyalty

(a)     Mt 6:24

(b)    Matthew 6:24 (ESV) — 24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

(c)     See also Mt 4:9–10 ; Jas 4:4

(d)    Matthew 4:9–10 (ESV) — 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “ ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’ ”

(e)     James 4:4 (ESV) — 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Section 1.03 They may hinder people’s response to the gospel

(a)     Mt 13:22; Mt 19:21–22

(b)    Matthew 13:22 (ESV) — 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

(c)     Matthew 19:21–22 (ESV) — 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Section 1.04 They may create false security

(a)     1 Ti 6:17

(b)    1 Timothy 6:17 (ESV) — 17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.

(c)     See also Job 31:24–28 ; Ps 52:6–7 ; Pr 11:28 ; Je 49:4

(d)    Job 31:24–28 (ESV) — 24 “If I have made gold my trust or called fine gold my confidence, 25 if I have rejoiced because my wealth was abundant or because my hand had found much, 26 if I have looked at the sun when it shone, or the moon moving in splendor, 27 and my heart has been secretly enticed, and my mouth has kissed my hand, 28 this also would be an iniquity to be punished by the judges, for I would have been false to God above.

(e)     Psalm 52:6–7 (ESV) — 6 The righteous shall see and fear, and shall laugh at him, saying, 7 “See the man who would not make God his refuge, but trusted in the abundance of his riches and sought refuge in his own destruction!”

(f)      Proverbs 11:28 (ESV) — 28 Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.

(g)     Jeremiah 49:4 (ESV) — 4 Why do you boast of your valleys, O faithless daughter, who trusted in her treasures, saying, ‘Who will come against me?’

Section 1.05 They may make people proud

(a)     Eze 28:5

(b)    Ezekiel 28:5 (ESV) — 5 by your great wisdom in your trade you have increased your wealth, and your heart has become proud in your wealth—

(c)     See also Ps 62:10 ; Pr 18:23 ; Pr 28:11 ; Ho 12:8

(d)    Psalm 62:10 (ESV) — 10 Put no trust in extortion; set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, set not your heart on them.

(e)     Proverbs 18:23 (ESV) — 23 The poor use entreaties, but the rich answer roughly.

(f)      Proverbs 28:11 (ESV) — 11 A rich man is wise in his own eyes, but a poor man who has understanding will find him out.

(g)     Hosea 12:8 (ESV) — 8 Ephraim has said, “Ah, but I am rich; I have found wealth for myself; in all my labors they cannot find in me iniquity or sin.”

Section 1.06 They may cause unbelief and anxiety

(a)     Ec 5:12

(b)    Ecclesiastes 5:12 (ESV) — 12 Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.

(c)     See also Job 20:17–20 ; Pr 15:6

(d)    Job 20:17–20 (ESV) — 17 He will not look upon the rivers, the streams flowing with honey and curds. 18 He will give back the fruit of his toil and will not swallow it down; from the profit of his trading he will get no enjoyment. 19 For he has crushed and abandoned the poor; he has seized a house that he did not build. 20 “Because he knew no contentment in his belly, he will not let anything in which he delights escape him.

(e)     Proverbs 15:6 (ESV) — 6 In the house of the righteous there is much treasure, but trouble befalls the income of the wicked.

Section 1.07 They may lead people to forget God

(a)     Pr 30:8–9

(b)    Proverbs 30:8–9 (ESV) — 8 Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, 9 lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.

(c)     See also Dt 8:10–14 ; Dt 32:15 ; Ne 9:25–26 ; Ho 13:6

(d)    Deuteronomy 8:10–14 (ESV) — 10 And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. 11 “Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, 12 lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, 13 and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery,

(e)     Deuteronomy 32:15 (ESV) — 15 “But Jeshurun grew fat, and kicked; you grew fat, stout, and sleek; then he forsook God who made him and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation.

(f)      Nehemiah 9:25–26 (ESV) — 25 And they captured fortified cities and a rich land, and took possession of houses full of all good things, cisterns already hewn, vineyards, olive orchards and fruit trees in abundance. So they ate and were filled and became fat and delighted themselves in your great goodness. 26 “Nevertheless, they were disobedient and rebelled against you and cast your law behind their back and killed your prophets, who had warned them in order to turn them back to you, and they committed great blasphemies.

(g)     Hosea 13:6 (ESV) — 6 but when they had grazed, they became full, they were filled, and their heart was lifted up; therefore they forgot me.

Article II.        Riches are physically dangerous

Section 2.01 Working for them may cause excessive tiredness

(a)     Pr 23:4

(b)    Proverbs 23:4 (ESV) — 4 Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist.

(c)     See also Jn 6:26–27

(d)    John 6:26–27 (ESV) — 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”

Section 2.02 Enjoying them may lead to self-indulgence

(a)     Jas 5:5

(b)    James 5:5 (ESV) — 5 You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.

(c)     See also Hag 1:3–5 ; Mt 23:25 ; Lk 16:19–21 ; 1 Ti 6:8–9

(d)    Haggai 1:3–5 (ESV) — 3 Then the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? 5 Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways.

(e)     Matthew 23:25 (ESV) — 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.

(f)      Luke 16:19–21 (ESV) — 19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores.

(g)     1 Timothy 6:8–9 (ESV) — 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.

Section 2.03 Misusing them may foster oppression and injustice

(a)     Le 19:13

(b)    Leviticus 19:13 (ESV) — 13 “You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired worker shall not remain with you all night until the morning.

(c)     See also Dt 24:12–15 ; Pr 22:16 ; Is 1:23 ; Je 22:13 ; Mic 6:12 ; Mal 3:5 ; Jas 2:6 ; Jas 5:4

(d)    Deuteronomy 24:12–15 (ESV) — 12 And if he is a poor man, you shall not sleep in his pledge. 13 You shall restore to him the pledge as the sun sets, that he may sleep in his cloak and bless you. And it shall be righteousness for you before the Lord your God. 14 “You shall not oppress a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brothers or one of the sojourners who are in your land within your towns. 15 You shall give him his wages on the same day, before the sun sets (for he is poor and counts on it), lest he cry against you to the Lord, and you be guilty of sin.

(e)     Proverbs 22:16 (ESV) — 16 Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.

(f)      Isaiah 1:23 (ESV) — 23 Your princes are rebels and companions of thieves. Everyone loves a bribe and runs after gifts. They do not bring justice to the fatherless, and the widow’s cause does not come to them.

(g)     Jeremiah 22:13 (ESV) — 13 “Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his upper rooms by injustice, who makes his neighbor serve him for nothing and does not give him his wages,

(h)    Micah 6:12 (ESV) — 12 Your rich men are full of violence; your inhabitants speak lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth.

(i)      Malachi 3:5 (ESV) — 5 “Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.

(j)      James 2:6 (ESV) — 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court?

(k)    James 5:4 (ESV) — 4 Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.


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