Originally published 2/25/07:
Preached a little sermon in reply to another blog on the subject of wealth and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Thought I’d share it here:
On the subject of riches, the scriptures speak fairly clear. The Lord tells us in the 38th Section of the D&C thusly:
39 And if ye seek the riches which it is the will of the Father to give unto you, ye shall be the richest of all people, for ye shall have the riches of eternity; and it must needs be that the riches of the earth are mine to give; but beware of pride, lest ye become as the Nephites of old.
As you can see, the Father values the riches of Eternal Life a lot more than worldly riches in the first place. In the second place, the false riches of the world are also his to give, but we are to beware of pride. Most Mormon’s think they are ok, that all is well in Zion, and that they can get wealthy and still pay tithing and give a bit here and there and all will be well. This is where Satan lulls us into carnal security (trust in the almighty dollar) as Nephi told us in 2nd Nephi:28
21 And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well-and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.
So, is it a sin to chase after wealth? The scripture you quote says that we can seek after riches after we have found the kingdom of God. So my first question is when do we ever finish searching for the kingdom of God? I think this question is best pondered in light of two identical scriptures given in the D&C in sections 6 and 11, the Lord says:
7:Seek not for riches but for wisdom; and, behold, the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto you, and then shall you be made rich. Behold, he that hath eternal life is rich.
The Lord is prohibiting us to seek for riches here and tells us to seek after wisdom instead. Then we will receive great knowledge and be made rich in an Eternal sense. We are not to seek after riches though.
Why can’t we seek after riches? Because… the pursuit of riches and the pursuit of Eternal life are mutually excusive. If we are seeking after mammon (from the greek word for “financial transactions”), we cannot serve God. You can’t have one foot in Zion and one foot in Babylon. You can’t serve two masters. Brigham Young made a good point when he said that the mind of a man who is constantly seeking to increase his wealth, is not fit to be written on by the pen of revelation. This is bad news since it is by revelation that we grow up into the stature of Christ. It is by revelation that we come to know Christ in order to become like him so that we see him as he is when he comes.
So the Lord has the riches of the world to give us, but there is a strict condition provided. We can’t become like the Nephites of old and give way to pride. It is not given that one man should possess that which is more than another possesses.
We need then to follow Jacob’s teachings in chapter 2. Oops. It looks like you forgot a verse when you were expounding on Jacob’s teachings above. The verse that is usually forgotten when one seeks to excuse his pursuit of wealth is the verse immediately preceeding… verse 17 which says:
17 Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you.
If we all lived like Jacob taught, there would be noone richer than another since a discovery of wealth would be cause to distribute it among your brothers so that all would be rich like you. You would then be one… united in Christ as Christ himself taught us in D&C 78 and D&C 38 saying that we cannot be his, unless we are one, in earthly things as well as in heavenly things:
5 That you may be equal in the bonds of heavenly things, yea, and earthly things also, for the obtaining of heavenly things.
6 For if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things;
27…I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.
Beware though. Remember, we are seeking after a greater abundance of the Spirit so that we can gain the revelation necessary to become like God. So, even if we give our wealth, but not with the right heart… we’ll miss out on some of the true riches as the Lord tells us in D&C 70:
14 Nevertheless, in your temporal things you shall be equal, and this not grudgingly, otherwise the abundance of the manifestations of the Spirit shall be withheld.
Interestingly in all of this the Lord doesn’t say to pay tithing and keep the rest, live large and give to the poor when you have a chance while maintaining the discrepancy between the rich and the poor. He says instead to become equal in earthly things and to make our brothers rich like unto us etc.
There really is no room for seeking after riches in this life. Why should we waste our time on such a silly thing when it is only a cheap imitation of the true riches of Eternal Life?
So is it robbing God to accumulate wealth? Is it robbing your fellow man? We know that we rob God by not paying tithing, this in spite of the fact that we went out and worked our capitalistic little butts off and earned it fair and square right? Nephi tells us about the wealthy… how their extravagance is actually classified as taking that which doesn’t belong to them… in spite of their capitalistic indignation at being called thieves when they worked hard for their money (though of course, many don’t work hard for their money at all… they are the wealthy that are idle and have eyes full of greediness, not stooping to the level of wearing the garment or eating the bread of the laborer). Nephi says in 2nd Nephi 28:
13 They rob the poor because of their fine sanctuaries; they rob the poor because of their fine clothing…
I am not saying this is justification for taking capitalists money away. I am merely pointing out the fact that in socialism, government takes away money from the individual (which you would say is robbing the individual of his property) (which money is not really theirs in the first place since it is robbing the poor and God to have it), while in capitalism, of course, the individual gets to hold onto his money which some would say is equal to robbing the poor and God. You can decide yourself who is justified.