We’ve talked about the perspective on prosperity – how it goes beyond the material to encompass the position of the human heart and our outlook on success/thriving. But now let’s actually talk about wealth—a subject that can be very touchy these days, particularly for my Millennial generation.
It can be hard to know how to relate to wealth, money, and possessions in a healthy way—especially for Christians! To some denominations it’s sinful to have anything more than the bare minimum to live off of; all else should be given to the needy. On the other hand, some Christians believe wealth is an indicator of God’s favor—or that the more you have, the more you can help others.
Something I’ve had to learn recently is the issue is never about money, because no one will ever be able to settle on what’s the baseline number for too much or too little. It’s all about the heart.
Think about it this way: God calls it grievous evil when wealth is hoarded to the harm of its owner. However, not everyone who’s ever served God was penniless or without property or possessions. So if you’re one who struggles with the subject of Christians and wealth, I offer this:
If anything in the whole world becomes enshrined on a person’s heart to the point where it becomes their god, the banner they fight beneath, the thing they’d do anything to have or maintain—including wealth—then it is a grievous evil. Period. To have wealth is not a sin; but to seek to possess it above all else, including the things God calls truly valuable—like wisdom!—and to cheat, lie, steal, or otherwise gain it in dishonorable ways that contradict the word of God, that is sin.
Always remember that the appearance of a thing like wealth is not the metric by which God judges; it is the heart He weighs. And so must we.
What is Wealth (as referred to in Scripture)?
When Scripture talks about wealth—particularly to caution us about the potential dangers of our attitude toward it—this is not always just a dollars-and-cents issue. It’s often a matter of wealth in general, however it’s measured—whether by coin or by property, possessions, etc.—and how we relate to these things.
To be clear, the Bible never says that it’s wrong to be wealthy. There were many people, rich by the standards of their time, who diligently followed God—like Abraham, Jacob, Paul’s patroness Phoebe (who likely helped fund his travels), Boaz, Kings Solomon and David, etc. The acquisition of wealth is not sinful or wrong in God’s eyes as long as it is done by just and honest channels.
But even then, people must be careful not to put riches on a throne in their hearts such that acquiring or maintaining them becomes paramount to doing the will of God. Jesus warned against this kind of worship of wealth when he said that “no servant is able to serve two lords, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to the one and think little of the other. You are not able to serve God and Wealth.” (Luke 16:13)
What Does the Bible Say About Money/Wealth?
Ecclesiastes 5:10 – Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.
Hebrews 13:5 – Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
1 Timothy 6:10 – For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, which some, reaching out for it, have been led astray from the faith and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
How Do I Relate to Wealth in a Healthy Way?
Remember that wealth is a means, not an end. It is not our security, sanctuary, or provision. God is all those things and more to us, and while He may bless us with financial welfare, that is not permission to reverse the roles of wealth and God in our lives.
That being the case, we should never be afraid to part with money if that’s what God calls us to do. If He moves us to sow into others, give to a church or ministry, support an impoverished family overseas, or even give up a comfortable lifestyle to do His work, our grip on our wealth and comfort can’t be so tight that we refuse. That’s the kind of unhealthy mindset we are warned against.
Train yourself to always hold your wealth in balance: to recognize it for what it is, to be thankful for it but never rely on it to be your sufficiency. Maintaining a healthy outlook toward money and possessions is an important part of keeping our hearts free of idols and open to God’s calling.
Do you find your focus is on gathering or maintaining your wealth rather than pursuing the things of God? Take time to meditate on God’s heart concerning money so you can bring your focus into alignment with His!