Vol. 1 - No. 5
"Which Drown Men"
by H. L. Bruce
The word "drown" (from buthizo) means "to plunge into the deep, to sink." (Vine) Webster defines drown, "to suffocate by submersion, especially in water, but that is not the submersion that we are dealing with in this article!
The apostle Paul informed Timothy as to the danger of materialism. "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." (1 Timothy 6:9) Some would classify this, perhaps as a blessing of being overwhelmed with success. But look at the text again! Along with this material gain would come temptation, and with the temptation a snare and then the many foolish and hurtful lusts. These are what drown men.
The progress of this destruction reminds us of James' evaluation: "But every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err my beloved brethren." (James 1:13-15). Achan demonstrated the nature of the progressiveness of temptation and sin when he "saw," "coveted" and "took" of the spoils of Jericho. (Joshua 7:21)
In his explanation of the parable of the sower, Jesus said, "He that receiveth seed among 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." (Matthew 13:22) As Paul warned that materialism could "drown" men through its effects; Christ warned that the word could be "choked" by the "care of this world and the deceitfulness of riches."
Has there ever been a generation of people who needed to stop and think about these warnings more than the one in which we now live? There are so many who qualify a person's values by the scope of his material wealth. To borrow an expression from the apostle James, "My brethren, these things ought not so to be."
According to the Bible material success is not sinful within and of itself! In using their skills properly, Christians must realize that temptations will come, must be dealt with and thwarted. The apostle Paul told the saints at Ephesus, "Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth." (Ephesians 4:28)
Success, according to this, can be a blessing. Then, on the other hand, it can cause many to stumble.
That which determines whether a person's success brings him benefit or hurt is his personal attitude and distribution. Drawing again from 1 Timothy chapter six, Paul instructed that if a materially successful person becomes high minded and trusts in uncertain riches that conflict with God's order is inevitable. On the other hand, if he trusts in the living God, does good, is rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate he is establishing a good foundation for himself against the time to come and may lay hold on eternal life. (Please read carefully 1 Timothy 6:17-19.)
When the mother of Zebedee's children intreated the Lord for positions of greatness in the kingdom for her sons he explained to her that it didn't come through personal grant. He said, "Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them and they that are great exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be chief among you let him be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:25-26). In another text he said, "And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted." (Matthew 23:12) Humility and obedient service, according to this is what counts and not material wealth. As He stated again, "Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of things which he possesseth." (Luke 12:15)
Since we live in a society of inflated affluence, it is important that we keep our relation to the material world in proper perspective lest we fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. (1 Timothy 6:9)