Deceitfulness of riches chokes out the fruits of gospel in many ways

"Jesus taught that we should not lay up for ourselves `treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: . . . For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.' (Matt. 6:19,21.) In other words, thetreasures of our hearts – our priorities – should not be the destructible and temporary things of this world," Elder Dallin H. Oaks wrote in The Pure in Heart.

"In elaborating on the parable of the sower, the Savior explained that the seed that fell among the thorns' signified the circumstance of one who heard the message of the gospel, butthe care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.' (Matt. 13:22). We have all seen examples of this pattern of stunted growth. After the precious seed (the message of the gospel) has begun to grow in the lives of some persons, they are diverted by their attention to the things of the world, and their spiritual fruits are choked out by `the deceitfulness of riches.' "Elder Oaks pointed out that the deceitfulness of riches can choke out the fruits of the gospel in many ways: "A person who covets the wealth of another will suffer spiritually. A person who has wealth and then loses it and becomes embittered and hateful is also a victim of the deceitfulness of riches.

"Another victim is the person who becomes resentful of the wealth of the wicked. The prophet Jeremiah gave voice to the old question, `Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously?' " (Jer. 12:1.)

Elder Oaks noted that those who brood over the prosperity or seeming happiness of the wicked put too much emphasis on material things. "They can be deceived because their priorities are too concentrated on worldly wealth," he wrote.

He suggested that another victim of the deceitfulness of riches is the person who consciously or unconsciously feels guilt at having failed to acquire the property or prominence the world credits as one of the signs of success.

"Those who preach the gospel of success and the theology of prosperity are suffering from the deceitfulness of riches' and from supposing thatgain is godliness.' (1 Tim. 6:5.) The possession of wealth or the acquisition of significant income is not a mark of heavenly favor, and their absence is not evidence of heavenly disfavor. Riches can be among the blessings that follow right behavior – such as the payment of tithing (Mal. 3:9-12) – but riches can also be acquired through the luck of a prospector or as the fruits of dishonesty."

Elder Oaks quoted Elder Neal A. Maxwell, who pointed out that those who trust in riches fail to see the real purpose of life. In an article in the Ensign in July 1982, Elder Maxwell wrote: "Jesus counseled us, too, concerning materialism and the deceitfulness of riches,' and of how hard it is for those who trust in riches and materialism to enter into the kingdom of God. (See Luke 18:24.) . . . Can those who are diverted by riches or the search for riches and thus fail to discern the real purposes of life be safely trusted with greater dominions which call for even greater discernment?And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations.' " (Rev. 2:26.)