The Deception of Wealth

An excerpt from my other blog:

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Jesus says, of the seed sown among thorns (13:22) that “anxiety about this present age (my overtranslation of μέριμνα τοῦ αἰῶνος) and the deception of wealth (ἡ ἀπάτη τοῦ πλούτου) strangle the word and it becomes fruitless.”

This first phrase, literally “the anxiety of the aion,” is similar to another phrase found in Paul. In 1 Cor. 7:34, he says that “the married woman is concerned about (μερμνᾷ) the things of the word (τὰ τοῦ κόσμου)…” The word αἰών means “the age” and refers to the Jewish view of human history as being divided into two ages, “the present age” and “the age to come.” The present age is organized in terms of principles and structures that are temporary, so that “the schema of this world is passing away” (1 Cor. 7:31). Focusing on this present age and its organizational structures is a distraction that will cause you to be unfruitful for the kingdom.

The preeminent form (but not the only form) that this “schema” takes is expressed in the second phrase: “the deception of wealth.” This is usually rendered as “the deceitfulness of riches,” but I think my version is more accurate. It means that wealth in this age is a mirage. It is not real wealth at all. It is a mere decoy to keep your eyes off the real prize.

(None of this should be taken to mean that it is wrong to have money and use it to further the kingdom of Christ. That is exactly what Jesus and Paul recommend. The danger is in thinking of this temporary and illusory schema — wealth — as permanent or determinative.)

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