Hope for your financial life and beyond

Richness Breeds Arrogance But There Is a Cure

Hidden Nuggets Series #35 “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they may be rich in good works, read to give, willing to share…” I Timothy 6:17

Me

Pride goes before destruction

That wealth you are accumulating sure feels good, doesn’t it. Getting a little chesty over it? Feel like showing it off a just a wee little bit? C’mon admit it…we like to have others ooh-and-ah over our toys.

It’s nothing new…been going on since, oh the dawn of time. It was certainly an issue in the New Testament church. The rich were called out by the Apostle Paul to “not be haughty” over their wealth.

Why does wealth breed arrogance and show-offiness? What is it about dollars accumulating in our bank account that prompts us to look down on others who don’t possess as much? Where does this high and mighty attitude come from?

If I’m honest, it’s a spiritual issue rooted in my selfishness, my forgetfulness as to whose responsible for those riches and my ability to slip into confusion about what’s important in life.

Debunking One Myth About God

Many view God as a big ogre in the sky ready to smack down and withhold good things from all those who don’t toe the line. I’m really glad that’s not the God I know. I’d be walking on eggshells everyday if that were the case.

In many places, the Bible describes God as a loving Father. Here in I Timothy 6:17, we read that God “gives us richly all things to enjoy.” That doesn’t sound like someone who has it in for me. Like any father would want good things for his son, so my heavenly Father wants me to enjoy all that He provides.

This gives me great freedom to find pleasure in what He has created, including the use of money. But…

My Issue

My problem lies in taking that freedom too far. With my money I accumulate and accumulate until eventually the pile gets so big I start puting my trust in my possessions or those large piles of cash instead of the One who provided them. I lose track of who is the source of my wealth, thinking I alone created it.

Those riches could be taken away in an instant. As Louis Winthorpe III said in Trading Places, “One minute you’re up half a million in soybeans and the next, boom, your kids don’t go to college and they’ve repossessed your Bentley.”

Don’t think that happens in real life? Ever heard of Job? For an interesting case study on how quickly that can happen check out his story in the Bible. If you want a more secular example, go back into history, circa the 1930s and read about those Wall Street millionaires who lost it all during the Depression. Or in contemporary culture, any multi-million dollar athlete in the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary Broke.

It’s sobering to say the least. Life can change very quickly and riches are definitely fleeting, not worthy of our trust.

What Really Matters

I love it when the Bible lays out the clear path for me. Instead of being boastful and arrogant about riches, my focus should be on:

Doing good…

Being ready to give…

Being willing to share…

Those things are what really will leave a lasting impact. But there is also something about helping others that crushes the prideful spirit inside of me. That’s the cure for our disease.

The dollars in my bank account have two destinations – my needs and the needs of others. And in no way am I ever entitled to look down on those with less than me. The consequences of such an attitude the Bible spells out pretty clearly, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).

I don’t want that to be me. Keep me humble God!

How do you keep yourself from developing a spirit of pride in your wealth? Is it blocking you from helping and serving others? Do you think richness breed arrogance?

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Next Post: Teaching Kids About Money: Four Age Appropriate Lessons

Prior Post: Cheer Up: Your Worst Day Wasn’t As Bad As This Kid’s

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Comments

  1. At this point, our focus is paying down debt, so I don’t feel like I’m building wealth. But of course, debt reduction is a type of wealth building. I’m excited about our progress – I don’t think I’m arrogant about it. The time will come when wealth-building will be on the agenda, and I can’t even conceive of how that will make me feel. I will definitely watch out for arrogance though.
    Prudence Debtfree recently posted…March Triumph: Debt #3 Down to 4 Figures March Fail: NSFMy Profile

  2. I think that wealth, like alcohol, simply amplifies the traits in a person that are already there. I’ve seen plenty of arrogant people who are not wealthy.

  3. I am not financially wealthy, so I don’t know if richness does really breed arrogance, but i’ve seen a lot of rich people who go both ways. I so agree with you; giving back, being generous, and doing good are all things that balance it out.

    • “…i’ve seen a lot of rich people who go both ways.” Very true Daisy. I’ve met some rich people who are the most humble and generous people I know. That’s nice to see and is very encouraging, knowing that wealth doesn’t automatically lead to arrogance.

    • “…i’ve seen a lot of rich people who go both ways.” Very true Daisy.
      I’ve met some rich people who are the most humble and generous people I
      know. That’s nice to see and is very encouraging, knowing that wealth
      doesn’t automatically lead to arrogance.

  4. Great thoughts, Brian. We are headed towards a less-than-fulfilling existence when we harbor the false belief that the importance of our lives is staked out by the abundance of our
    possessions!

  5. Great post, Brian! I struggle with this issue as I’m sure many, many others do. For some reason it’s much more difficult to put our identity in Christ instead of in things. I think it’s because we let the worldly view of worth, image, etc. take over and distort the truth.

    • You know what I have been thinking a lot about lately DC? If God supplies so many good things for our enjoyment now, I can’t imagine what heaven is going to be like. All this stuff I have won’t even compare to what is waiting for me.

      • Nice blog! When I read the title I was hoping your “cure” was going to be humility and it was. I’ve personally never reached the stage of being cocky – sorry – I’ve seen too many bad times to ever think they can’t just blindside you when you least expect them.

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