Matthew 13:22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.

Luke 8:14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.

Deuteronomy 8:11 Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day:

12 Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein;

13 And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied;

14 Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage;

17 And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth.

18 But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.

Psalm 49:6 They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches;

7 None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him.

Psalm 62:10 Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.

Proverbs 23:4 Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.

5 Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.

Matthew 19:23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.

I Timothy 6:9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.

10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

MEMORY VERSE: Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. —I Timothy 6:17-19

CENTRAL THOUGHT: Wealth can be deceitful and choke spiritual fruitfulness, keeping souls out of heaven; therefore, God’s Word warns against forgetting God in times of wealth, trusting in wealth and setting one’s heart on it, laboring and striving for wealth, and loving wealth and the gain of it.


Matthew 13:22 “Deceitfulness”: from a root word which means to seduce; lure; beguile.

Luke 8:14 “Perfection”: completion; maturity.

Proverbs 23:4 “Labour”: to be exhausted; toil; labor; be weary; wear oneself out.

I Timothy 6:9 “They that will be rich”: “The words are emphatic, and refer to persons who are determined to get riches; who make this their object and aim in life; who live to get money; who get all they can, save all they can, and keep all they get; and yet are apprehensive of no danger, because they seek to be rich by honest means; for it is likely that the apostle does not refer to those who wish to get riches by robbery, plunder, extortion, etc.” (Clarke’s Commentary). “A snare”: “of the devil” is added by many of the church fathers. “Destruction”: wreck and ruin of the body. “Perdition”: ruin of the eternal soul.

I Timothy 6:18: “Ready to distribute, willing to communicate”: “In distinguishing between these words, which are nearly synonymous, the first points rather to the hand which generously gives, and the second to the heart which lovingly sympathizes” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers).


The second type of dangerous thorn mentioned is the deceitfulness of riches (both Matthew and Mark use this term), or riches of this life, as it is implied in Luke 8:14. Both terms give the joint meaning of temporal; worldly riches that do not have any eternal value, but rather seduce the developing Christian away from following Christ, robbing the soul of its heavenly goal.

Very important to this discussion is the warning God gave the children of Israel just before they entered Canaan. In Moses’ last message to his people, he pleaded with them not to forget the One who gave them the power to become wealthy, and become lifted up and boastful. He reminded them of the spiritual and financial bondage they came from and the purpose for which they had accumulated flocks and herds. In this passage we see the beginning elements and the progression of the deceptiveness of wealth: 1) Fullness makes you forget, and when you forget the truth, you create another story, a lie, that you tell yourself. 2) It’s a lie you not only believe yourself, but you are emboldened to boast to others. 3) You have forgotten the folly and danger of boasting. 4) You have forgotten the source of your riches, therefore you dangerously depend upon yourself. 5) You have forgotten that God, Who is the true source, because He loves you, can also give you poverty to humble you and cause you to remember.

The writer in Psalm 49 makes the point that riches cannot redeem from destruction nor ransom the soul. Possibly Paul alludes to this when he warns Timothy in I Timothy 6:9 about destruction and perdition.

The Proverbs writer reminds of the folly of wearing one’s self out to accumulate wealth, illustrating the uncertainty and volatility of riches by comparing fortune to an eagle which suddenly takes flight, climbing until it is completely out of view.

Jesus’ statement was given after the rich, young ruler walked away from His offer of discipleship, sadly hanging his head because he could not bear to lose what he had worked so hard to gain. I also believe the sadness which descended upon him came from the nagging realization that he had just turned down the opportunity for lasting joy for which he had run toward Jesus a few moments before! Jesus compared a wealthy person entering into the kingdom to a camel going through the eye of a needle, which has been interpreted several ways: either it is simply an impossibility, if interpreted in a very literal sense; or it spoke to an entrance into a city that was only accessible to a traveler on a camel if the camel got on its knees, rolled off all of the baggage piled on its back, crawled through, and the rider crawled through after it. In that comparison, the rich person would need to do just as Jesus had asked—get rid of the load of wealth that weighed him down and become very small in his own estimation.

Paul’s warning about the love of money and the drive to become wealthy includes an admonition for those who are already wealthy: be willing to share with others and strive to excel at the gift of liberality. Seek to use your money to gain eternal “friends” (a reference to Luke 16:9) and lay up spiritual treasures in heaven.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


  1. What effect has wealth upon Christian fruit-bearing?
  2. Explain how riches are deceitful.
  3. List the warnings given in the Scripture concerning wealth.
  4. List the positive admonitions for those who are wealthy.


There are several deceptive lies embedded in the pursuit of wealth that are so dangerous it is no wonder that Jesus and the apostles warned about them!

One is the false feeling of security—for both body and soul—one feels when there is a comfortable stash, income is flowing and the financial plan seems stable for years to come. A few things can wipe it out: death, natural disaster, sickness, a sudden shift on Wall Street, theft or job loss (modern terms for words Jesus once used—moth, rust, thieves).

A second lie is that riches are a sign of God’s favor. Not always so! Especially not so when one has labored to acquire wealth and has set his or her heart or affections on it. This lie is, unbelievably, being hawked even by “Christian” preachers and teachers.

One may never admit believing it, but a third lie some take in is that eternal life can be purchased if one has enough money. Ridiculously, this one has also been promoted by some religious beliefs.

Sadly, a fourth deception believed by most people is that if you just had more money, you would be happier. We do not have the room to tell the stories of all the people who proved that one to be false.

Riches “kiss and betray, they smile and smite into hell. They put out the eyes, harden the heart, steal away all the life of God, fill the soul with pride, anger, and love to the world, and make men enemies to self-denial and the whole cross of Christ” (John Wesley).

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


I would like to share a precious memory that lives on in my heart although it occurred in my early married life. I was working at Faith Publishing at the time and the Lord was meeting our needs, though our finances were low. I had been working some evenings for Phillip and Dan Gellenbeck in Edmond to earn a little on the side. They had me hanging doors, casing, doing window stools, base and closets. One day they took me to a show home in Nichols Hills which was an elite area. The tall ceilings, fireplace, gorgeous crown moulding, the beautiful staircase and kitchen were overwhelming to me. I remember the master closet looking bigger than the living room where we were living.

On my drive home I was comparing this mansion with where I was living and it made our place seem like a little matchbox in comparison, like nothingness. I began questioning what my life was amounting to. Was I missing it somehow? I was feeling discouraged and disheartened as I drove toward home.

Out of the blue, amidst my disheartenment, the words of a song about heaven came to my mind. I began to sing it out loud to myself and all of a sudden the glory of heaven was revealed and opened to my spirit. God was there, Jesus was there, holy angels were there and it was all so real that I was greatly comforted. I wasn’t missing it after all. I had it all. The vision I experienced made that earthly mansion I had just seen look so trivial and minute in comparison. By the time I got home, I was so full of joy and peace and welcomed the sight of our little home and my precious wife. “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).

—Bro. Bob Wilson