We are deluged with pictures of parties, frivolity, and laughter… in commercials and advertisements. Everyone seems so happy! And all because they bought ___________ (fill in the blank). In other words, they had money. And because of the money, they had friends.
Wealth brings many friends,
but the poor are left friendless. Proverbs19:4 NRSV
Proverbs confirms it. Money brings friends. But what kind of friends? More importantly, what will happen to those friends when the money disappears?
Some friends play at friendship but a true friend sticks closer than one’s nearest kin. Proverbs 18:24 NRSV
A person who is my friend because I have the money to entertain them or to give them isn’t really my friend.
A friend loves at all times. Proverbs 17:17 NRSV
If someone is truly my friend, she will be there even during the hard times.
But this proverb is more than just about friends. It’s about money and how we desire it in order to change and control our lives. We think that with money life will be easier; things will be better. We might even be more popular. The Lord Jesus talked about money:
No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. Matthew 6:24 NRSV
It can’t be much clearer than that. If our goal in life is to have money (more money than we have right now) or to hang onto the money we have, then we cannot serve God. In fact, if we have money (which all of us in America do), then we are actually commanded to be generous with it:
As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share. 1 Timothy 6:17-18 NRSV
Notice that it doesn’t say that all believers will be wealthy, but for those of us who are, we are to be generous, liberal in giving, openhanded. In fact, James tells us that if we have when another doesn’t and we refuse to give, we actually don ‘t have faith:
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. James 2:14-17 NRSV
So, if we have, we are to give. And if we don’t have, we are to trust. Better to be poor and only have God for a friend than to be wealthy and have friends who will leave the moment the wealth disappears.