[June 25]--Is There Anything Wrong With Money?

Prov. 30:7-9

Anyone who claims that the Bible isn’t a practical book ought to note how often it talks about money. As someone pointed out to me a long time ago, Jesus talked more about money than he did about heaven and hell combined. It’s a subject that a lot of pastors like to avoid, especially when it comes to tithing, since they would hate to offend anyone. But since we've been studying hardship and affliction, I thought it might be useful to talk a bit about this.

I’ve mentioned yesterday that people tend to go to extremes on this subject. A lot of preachers on TV openly teach that God’s will is for everyone to be wealthy in this life, and if someone's not, then there’s something wrong with their faith. Others teach that wealth is bad, and God’s plan for Christians is for them to have just enough to meet their basic physical needs: food, clothing, and shelter.

What does the Bible say? As you might expect, it doesn’t side with either group, and provides a perfect corrective to both. To the second group, it lists several godly men and women who were very wealthy, and God not only didn't condemn them, he openly commended their devotion to him. Abraham, Isaac, David, Joseph of Arimathea, and of course Job were all very wealthy men who also were righteous and God-centered in their outlook. Nowhere is it recorded that the Lord commanded them to give all their money away to the poor.

On the other hand, the Bible gives multiple warnings about wealth. If I could summarize the Bible’s stance on money, I'd say God’s word doesn't classify it as bad but as very dangerous. Today’s passage is just one such warning. Jesus warned about it (for example here), as did Paul. The main issue seems to be our devotion to and trust in our Lord, in opposition to our tendency to fix our attention on the blessings instead of the Blesser.

By the way, one little phrase leaped out at me the last time I read Jesus' parable of the Sower and the Seeds, which is found in all the synoptic Gospels (e.g. here). When our Lord was describing how one set of seeds were choked out by "weeds," he says that he was comparing the weeds to "the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things." That got me thinking: "Deceitfulness of wealth"? How can wealth itself be deceitful? Well, what specific lies can wealth tell me? I can think of a few off the top of my head (founded in Scripture): 1) "Wealth can provide real security," 2) "Wealth can bring true joy in life," 3) "Wealth is more important than my relationship with the Lord," 4) "If I accumulate wealth, it's my own diligence/intelligence/creativity that got it for me. I don't really need God to provide for my needs.

When you’re poor and are living a hand-to-mouth existence, you trust in the Lord because you have little other choice. But when you accumulate wealth, it’s a lot easier to forget who brought you to this point and to abandon him. It’s not necessarily what will happen (the men listed in the above paragraph prove this), but it’s common enough that Scripture feels the need to warn us about it repeatedly.

So what about me? Is there any way for me to convince the Lord that I can handle more wealth? Well, there might be a way. Read Luke 16:10-12 and ask yourself: “How do I handle what I’ve been given so far? Do I put more trust in my own resources than in my Provider? Do I faithfully give back to God’s work through the church? This is no guarantee that he's going to give you more wealth, but it does raise an uncomfortable question: If I can’t handle a five-digit income, why should God trust me with anything more?”

Father God, everything I have, everything I am, is yours. You've not only created me, you've redeemed me so I’m yours twice over. Every possession I have is on loan, and you'll demand an accounting someday for how I handle it. Please renew my heart and mind, change my attitude. I desperately need it at times.

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