Tempting Yet Fleeting Wealth 


Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. (1 Timothy 6:6-11) 


St Paul would no doubt recommend against playing the lottery for he sees such wealth as being too tempting and leading people to losing their moral compass not to mention their soul. Wealth according to Paul is fleeting, and better to pursue godliness and flee the temptations of wealth. Yet, he recognizes the allurement of wealth is great and mesmerizes people so that they lose their minds/souls in pursuit of it. 

The fleetingness of wealth is that it belongs only to this world – we neither bring any wealth into the world with us when we are born and we take none out when we die and depart from this life. Wealth is thus tempting for those who are living mostly for this world rather than for life in the world to come. It is temptingly wonderful in this world, but then this world is only a small part of our lives and of the cosmos, and this world is passing away (1 Corinthians 7:31). 


St Paul argues we should treat wealth not as some eternal or permanent good, but something belonging only to the fallen world. If we can use it wisely and in a godly way that is good, but it also presents many temptations to lead us astray (and no doubt many would say, I am willing to risk those temptations!).  

St Ambrose of Milan building upon Paul’s words says: 

Earth was established in common for all, rich and poor alike. Nature, which begets every one poor, knows no wealthy for we are not born with clothing or begotten with gold and silver. Naked, it brings us into the light, wanting food, clothing, drink, and naked the earth receives us whom it brought forth, not knowing how to compass our possessions in the tomb. (FROM THEIR LIPS, p 163)