Somewhere today I heard a man talking about Solomon, king of Israel after David. You know the story: Wisest of men, leading Israel to riches and peace, 700 wives and 300 concubines, the builder of the Temple and, in the end, apostate king. "The difference between Solomon and David," this man said, "is that David had a passion for God and Solomon didn't."
I'm not sure the difference between them is that simple. But the man had a point: Solomon, as he grew older, became distracted and turned from God. In the end, so far as anyone can tell, he died unrepentant, his heart cold towards God and the people of his kingdom.
This reminds me of Jesus' parable of the man sowing seed in his field. Some seed fell on ground where there were thorns and weeds, and when that seed began to sprout the thorns entangled themselves around the grain, choking it out so that there was no fruit from that seed. This, Jesus said, represents the person who hears the gospel and receives it; but the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke out the gospel.
I think about this as I grow older. I think about this because I wonder how many of us are slowly, and all unawares, turning into Solomons. We have kingdoms now, and alliances, and comforts and blessings. We want to keep those things going on into the future. We have a place for God, just as Solomon had a temple for God. We aren't tearing down the temple; we're just kind of ignoring it. We have other concerns now--retirement, paying off the mortgage, getting the kids through college.
You don't need to be wealthy to be deceived by wealth. You just need to put your hope in wealth. We show this when we think that all our problems would be solved with a bigger paycheck, or by winning the lottery, or by someone leaving us a few hundred thousand dollars as an inheritance. Money can give us what we want. Money can provide the toys that make life worth living. Money can ease the stress we face day by day.
Most people I know look for two things in life: we want security and we want to enjoy the fruit of that security. We use our faith as a tool to gain what we want. Not only the Word of Faith people--those "prosperity gospel" preachers--do this. In everyday living, we all throw our time and thought and strength into seeking these things. What a contrast to "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."