The Deceitfulness of Riches

“The cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches . . . choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mark 4:19).

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If something is deceitful it will let you down when you need it most; it will not fulfil its promise. How can riches be like that? Are they not meant to be a safeguard when things go wrong?

Our verse is describing one of the ways in which people can react to the word of God when they hear it. The Lord Jesus is using the well known parable of seed being sown and the different kinds of soil it could fall into. The type of soil would decide whether or not the seed could grow. Some would not grow at all – eaten by birds. Some would not have deep enough soil and the seedling would soon wither. Some would find good ground and give a great harvest. But again, some would be choked by weeds and thorns which would smother the growth and it would be “unfruitful”.

The Lord said that world’s cares, its riches and such like are these thorns and weeds. They have the potential to squeeze out and destroy the benefit of receiving the word of God. They grow vigorously, perhaps look promising, maybe even beautiful – but they choke out what is needful and best. After all you can’t feed on weeds, you need wholesome grain.

So when your soul is hungry and when you need spiritual blessing, riches will not satisfy. They maybe grow well, the bank balance looks attractive, money may be plentiful – but it all can choke out what matters most. It deceives when most needed.

The Lord Jesus told another parable about a farmer whose business really prospered, so much so that he resolved to build bigger barns to store his produce, then relax and enjoy the benefit of his good fortune. But that night he died. His riches and prosperity had deceived him and cheated him. He never benefitted from it. Had he heeded the word of God he could have been blessed for ever. You can read this short parable in Luke 12:16-21.