Two weekends ago, I visited my future brother-in-law Ben in the Great White North of America (aka, the Twin Cities). During the first day of our getaway, Ben’s dad took us boating on Lake Minnetonka. It was relaxing, refreshing, and very humorous, as Ben watched two young boys that he “nannies.” (I would come up with another name for that, but it’s not my job.)
Lake Minnetonka is large and gorgeous. We made it around half the lake in 2 hours. Throughout the tour, Ben’s dad kept telling us what celebrity lived in that house or this house. He’d tell us how much some of these lake homes cost. Some were above $500,000; others, upwards of $5 million. The opulence and material excess saddended me greatly. As I watched very large boats all around (not ours — though it’s new, I’m told it was bought a reasonable price and it is rather humble looking), I couldn’t help but hear John Piper’s words echo in my mind: “You get to the end of your life and you stand before the Creator of the Universe and say, ‘Look at my boat God!'” So many people, literally thousands in a small area, put their hope in a million dollar home, a two-story boat, long weekends, early retirement, and an easy, risk-free life.
As we passed under one of the channels, we drove slowly by another boater. He stood at the head of the boat, smiled, waved, and said, “Living the dream.” I sort of rolled my eyes and thought, “Wrong dream, dude.” I pray he’s not the one who stands before God Almighty on the last day and says, “But…look at my boat, God!”
There’s nothing wrong with taking a ride on a lake in a boat. Perhaps even, there’s nothing wrong with owning a boat. There might not even be anything wrong with living in an expensive house on the lake. But is that what God calls us to? Does he call us to monetary and material wealth, alongside suntans, margaritas, and a stress-free life? God calls us to treasure himself above all things. Being rich isn’t wrong. But I would contend that living like you are rich, and certainly putting your hope in riches, is.
Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.
– Proverbs 11:28
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
– Matthew 6:21, 24
And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
– Luke 12:15
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. 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.
– 1 Timothy 6:9-10
Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
– Hebrews 13:5
Don’t trust in riches. Don’t boast in your boat or lakehouse. Don’t boast in your job or income or SUV or anything else you own. For “the earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therin” (Ps. 24:1). Don’t live the American dream. Live the true dream: the rich, abundant spiritual life in Christ (Jn. 10:10). Remember that if you are in Christ your riches are spiritual and they are given by and grounded in Christ (Rom. 10:12; Eph. 1:3, 18; 2:7). “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverity might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9).