In the Old Testament, wealth was mainly quantified in terms of silver and gold (Genesis 13:2) or material goods, including servants and livestock (Genesis 30:43). Wealth was also an indicator of a person’s spirituality. For example, Abraham’s wealth was considered a blessing from God (Genesis 24:35). It is also apparent in the Old Testament that wealth was gained in other ways that didn’t please God, for instance, using a faulty weighing balance (Proverbs 11:1, Deuteronomy 25:15, Micah 6:11). Wealth gained in God-honoring ways encouraged reverence and loyalty to God as we see with Abraham (Genesis 14:13, Job 1:21). Abraham was keen on not having to rely on people for gaining his wealth so that only God could receive the glory and not man for his wealth. The Old Testament clarifies that God allows humans to create wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18).
Wealth in the New Testament
In the New Testament, Jesus cautioned his followers about wealth while at the same time giving them a proper perspective of understanding and handling wealth (Matthew 19:21-26). Christ knew that what we do with our wealth and how we relate to it can help indicate our hearts’ spiritual condition (Matthew 6:21). What we do with wealth reveals what we most love and trust in and what kingdom we are serving (Matthew 6:24). The darkness of materialism can taint everything we do and this is because if we see money as our security and happiness, we can make decisions that don’t honour God. This is why Jesus argued that you cannot serve both God and money. “Serve”, in Matthew 6:24, refers to depending on ‘money or God’ for provision and security. In summary, for whatever we serve, we will do all it takes to have/please it.
The Right Attitude
Though wealth is needed to meet our human needs, many people view money with so much esteem that telling them to renounce it or give it away would equate to telling them to stop breathing or to pour out their lifeblood! C.S. Lewis would say that wealth has a way of knitting a man’s heart to this world! For instance, many of the ancient Kings would be buried with all their treasures so they could enjoy them in the afterlife. But then archaeologists would take it all away, rendering the beliefs of such cultural traditions untrue. The truth is we brought nothing into the world and shall leave with nothing out of it (1 Timothy 6:7). We must live with the appreciation that we shall all leave empty-handed. The world and all its riches belong to God (Psalm 24:1). Wealth may develop wings and fly while we are still alive if not gone to be with the Lord (Proverbs 23:5).
Therefore, a biblical perspective should inform our attitude towards money. We owe God, the one who grants us the ability to make wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18), all our allegiance, not the wealth he gives. God has granted wealth and all that we have to us so that we can do good works (2 Corinthians 9:8). We need to appreciate that money is not bad. Still, the love of it is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10). The proper attitude of wealth acknowledges our limitations and that we are only here for a time. We need an attitude that does not ignore God or disrespectfully treat his people because of what they have or don’t have. The right attitude will help us be content with what we have (Philippians 4:12, 1 Timothy 6:6).
But while you can’t take anything with you into the next life, scripture says you can send it on ahead! What you invest in for eternal purposes will be “stored” for you in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21). One of the ways the Bible instructs us to overcome enslavement to wealth is by being generous. Generosity is an essential part of our service to God as we meet the needs of others (Matthew 25:34-40). God knows how money can easily steal our hearts, tearing us away from God, hence exposing us to unnecessary heartache.
One of the marks of a Christian in the early days was generosity (1 John 3:17, Luke 12:33). Christians were known for helping believers and non-believers equally until a pagan emperor called Julian the Apostate (331-363 A.D) said the following about Christians: “Atheism (what he called Christians as they refused to recognize their gods) has been specifically advanced through the loving treatment rendered to strangers and through their care for the burial of the dead, it is a scandal that there is not a single Jew who is a beggar that the “godless” Galileans care not only for their own poor but ours also”. Christians took care not only of their own, but they were also generous to their neighbours (Acts 2:45, 4:34-37). One author says they loved each other even before they knew each other (1 John 4:19). We must give in a way that amazes the world because we are from a whole different kingdom!
Even as we desire wealth, may we be mindful of the snares it may bring. If our eyes are not fixed on Christ, these snares will quickly bring forth our downfall, drawing us away from finding our joy in the Lord. Let us, then, seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you, even wealth (Matthew 6:33).
Like Father, Like Children: God’s Compassion Shows Up In the Church – Darrow Miller and Friends.