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  • Dan Wilson

How much is enough?

How much is enough?

John D. Rockefeller, one of the richest men in history was supposedly once asked this question. His answer was, “Just a little bit more.”

As I’ve approached retirement age, I’ve spent a fair amount of time contemplating this question. As a believer, one of the first scripture references that surface on this subject is Matthew 6: 19-21 NIV:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

This passage encourages us not to store up wealth here on earth but to build up treasure in heaven. It also reminds us that wherever your treasure is – your heart will be also. It seems clear that earthly treasure refers to money and valuable assets, but what is meant by heavenly treasure? I believe the simplest description of heavenly treasure is what we give away while we are here. More specifically, it is work we are doing for our heavenly Father rather than for ourselves. Examples include our time and service to others, and our tithes and offerings in support of spreading the gospel. Does Christ teach that we shouldn’t accumulate wealth? I don’t believe so. I think what he is trying to get us to understand is that making wealth an idol is a sin.

The Bible actually has quite a lot to say about working to provide for ourselves and our families.

2 Thessalonians 3:10 NIV says, “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”

Proverbs 10:4 NIV says, “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.”

And 2 Thessalonians 3:6 NIV even admonishes us not to associate with people who refuse to work: “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us.”

It’s the love of money, the focus on wealth, and, therefore, the insertion of an idol in our life that is the issue at hand. Whatever we think about most, spend the most time on – that’s our idol. Anything but Jesus in that role is a problem.

An often misapplied scripture about money being the root of all evil misses the mark. It’s not money, but the love of money that is an issue. The scripture, 1 Timothy 6:10 NIV states:

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

Which brings us back full circle to the question, how much is enough? Christ illustrates this lesson clearly in the parable of the rich fool found in Luke 12:13-21. This rich man has amassed so much wealth that he didn’t have room for it all. So, he decided to tear down his barns to build bigger ones. Jesus’ reply was, “You fool, today is your last day on earth, who will benefit from all our work now?” This is the scripture that hit home for me.

How much is enough? I still don’t know for sure. Two truths seem to be clear, and this is what the Holy Spirit has revealed to me; 1) Seek first His Kingdom, and “everything else” will be provided for. (Matthew 6:33) Keep asking daily for direction and the Father will provide it and 2) Trust the Father to provide. As I watch the birds feed outside my window almost every morning, I’m reminded of what Jesus said in Matthew 6:26 NIV:

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

I’ve decided to focus more time and energy on building wealth in heaven, spend what I do have as wisely as I can, and leave the outcome to the Father.

As for John D Rockefeller, he amassed a fortune estimated to be hundreds of billions in today’s dollars depending on the source you use. History notes that John Rockefeller was a devout Northern Baptist, and he spent the last 40 years of his life in philanthropic efforts using use his wealth to support public health and education advancements for the good of his fellow man. God has blessed me with a full barn. Not a Rockefeller-sized barn for sure, but I have no desire to pull it down and start building a bigger one.

[As adapted from The Bondage Breaker and Stomping Out The Darkness by Dr. Neil Anderson and Dr. Dave Park.]



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