Christianity has always had to deal with the issue of money. However, different fads and crazes have left extreme views that cannot both be right. Some preachers call money evil; others say it is God’s blessing. They might both be right and wrong, depending on you. Let’s examine both of these myths.
1. It is wrong to have money
Money is a socially accepted method of transferring ownership of goods or services. The more one has of this commodity, the more control, luxury, and options he or she has available. Clearly, from youth we follow this incentive to amass as much money as possible.
However, most Christians believe the ownership of things and having money to be wrong. You probably feel this way even if you claim to believe something else. The way we talk to children reveals our true feelings: “When I was your age, I wore shoes with holes in the soles.” This guilt tactic should make them feel miserable for wearing the brand new Nikes you got them.
“You have nice books and a good education—most kids in the world do not even own a book or know how to read.” Now this is effective; they will feel ashamed for learning and being smart.
“When I was a kid, we made a fishing pole out of a branch and a piece of string.” I am sure that is a good memory, but it is no reason for my son to feel bad about his new open-faced reel and graphite rod—bet your homemade rig never caught you 25 bluegill in one day!
I suggest that we get rid of this “having things is bad” thinking and teach our children to be grateful to the Lord for all His blessings. Jesus owned a robe so nice that the soldiers gambled to see who got to own it.
2. It is righteous to have money
Popular TV preachers and certain religious circles talk about money as if it were God’s blessing. God’s blessing is Himself. If we have Him, we are blessed. With that, He takes care of our needs and often gives us more than we need. He does not want us in debt or financially dependent on anyone but Himself.
Pride sneaks in quickly when the prosperity believer drives into the church parking lot with the brand new BMW. He obviously has more faith than the person who owns 1987 hunk of junk he’s parking next to. Right? Haughtiness can swell in the heart of the woman who walks into church wearing the brand-new dress. God has obviously blessed her more than the lady wearing the homemade gown. Right?
God never speaks highly of opulence or extravagance. Scripture portrays most wealthy people with negative characteristics as well. Generally, the wealthy have no time for God and become arrogant and harsh toward fellow humans. Even strong believers who drank the Kool-Aid of prosperity preaching often become callous to God and His creatures.
Since neither of these extreme views about money (poverty is wrong, wealth is wrong) have biblical support, let’s see what the proper scriptural view is.
Busting the issue of the heart
Poor people have money issues. Rich people have money issues. The problem is not the money. You must know who is Lord in your life. If you only serve God for what you can get, you have a problem. If you think your broken-down car or unpaid bills indicate your humility and holiness, you are wrong. If you feel justified by God because of what He has given you, you have a problem.
When you love God with all your heart soul, mind, and strength, you hold money in a loose hand. When I first started making good money, I would get so excited every week I took another few thousand dollars to the bank. Having gone from less than $8 an hour to making a professional wage, I did not know how to react. I became calloused toward others and looked down on those who were making the same wage I had received only a couple years before.
After working myself to death trying to make a fortune in a different industry (and failing), I had to surrender to the Lord and let Him become my master again. Covetousness brought me to rock bottom where I again saw what was important. God did not take my money from me, my love of money did. Once I converted, He again blessed in many unexpected ways and got me out of my mess (slowly enough, though, that I would not forget the lesson).
Today I can shake a millionaire’s hand and the homeless man’s hand and feel no differently toward either. They both answer to God just like I do. They both need to lay up riches in heaven, not pile up junk on earth.
Money is not the favor of God, but it may come as a result of His favor. Whether you continue to dwell in His approval depends on what you do with the assets He gives you.
Get rich quick
You can be wealthy in the next five minutes if you really want it. Read this from I Timothy 6:6-11 in the Good New Bible translation:
Well, religion does make us very rich, if we are satisfied with what we have.
What did we bring into the world? Nothing! What can we take out of the world? Nothing! So then, if we have food and clothes, that should be enough for us. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and are caught in the trap of many foolish and harmful desires, which pull them down to ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a source of all kinds of evil. Some have been so eager to have it that they have wandered away from the faith and have broken their hearts with many sorrows. But you, man of God, avoid all these things. Strive for righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.
Are you satisfied with what you have? You are blessed. Live for God’s glory, not money. Do everything out of love, not for a bonus check or a pay raise. Give, do not hoard. And you will be a happy, wealthy person.