What Paul is warning against is not the desire to earn money to meet our needs and the needs of others; he is warning against the desire to have more and more money with the ego boost and material luxuries it can provide.

Let’s look at the three reasons Paul gives in verses 7–10 for why we should not aspire to be rich.

First, in verse 7 he says, “We have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.” There are no U-Hauls behind hearses.

The person who spends himself to get rich in this life is a fool. He is out of touch with reality. We will go out just the way we came in. Picture hundreds of people entering eternity in a plane crash in the Sea of Japan. They stand before God utterly stripped of Visa cards, checkbooks, credit lines, image clothes, how-to-succeed books, and Hilton reservations. Here are the politician, the executive, the playboy, and the missionary kid, all on level ground with absolutely nothing in their hands, possessing only what they brought in their hearts. How absurd and tragic the lover of money will seem on that day.

Don’t spend your precious life trying to get rich, Paul says, “For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.”

Second, in verse 8 Paul adds another reason not to pursue wealth: “If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.” Christians can be and ought to be content with the necessities of life. When you have God near you and for you, you don’t need extra money or extra things to give you peace and security. Hebrews 13:5–6 makes this crystal clear:

Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,” so that we confidently say, “THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?”

No matter which way the market is moving, God is always better than gold. His promises of help sever the cords of bondage to the love of money.

The third reason not to pursue wealth is that the pursuit will end in the destruction of your life. This is the point of verses 9–10:

But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

No Christian Hedonist wants to plunge into ruin and destruction and be pierced with many griefs. Therefore, no Christian Hedonist desires to be rich. Instead we want to use our money to maximize our joy the way Jesus taught us to. Jesus is not against investment. He is against bad investment—namely, setting our hearts on the comforts and securities that money can afford in this world. Money is to be invested for eternal yields in heaven: “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20). How?

Luke 12:32–34 gives one answer:

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

So the answer to how to store up treasure in heaven is to spend your earthly treasures for merciful purposes in Christ’s name here on earth. Give to those in need—that is how you provide yourself with money belts in heaven. Notice carefully that Jesus does not merely say that treasure in heaven will be the unexpected result of generosity on earth. No, He says we should pursue treasure in heaven. Store it up! “Make yourselves money belts … an unfailing treasure in heaven!” This is pure Christian Hedonism.

Piper, John. 2001. The Dangerous Duty of Delight. Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers.

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