Is it time to hear what God has to say about our wealth?
Some of us are confused about money. God’s perspective on our earthly possessions runs contrary to most people’s understanding. Yet nowhere in the Bible does he condemn wealth.
“Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming to you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.” James 5: 1-4
Although this appears to be condemnation, it is similar the Old Testament’s righteous indignation about the attitude toward wealth, not wealth in and of itself.
When we become Christians it heightens and/or changes our views on many things: security, time, beauty, prestige, significance, what it means to be secure and most certainly what the Bible has to say about poverty and about wealth. James in the verse above is addressing unbelievers in that area. He is showing his readers the absolute folly of setting a high value on wealth, of envying those who have wealth and of feverishly trying to obtain what others have. What he is doing here is making it clear that for all intents and purposes the rich appear to have it easy, but they should actually be the ones who are wailing, moaning and groaning because of the misery that is coming upon them. In light of the fact that they are living in self-indulgent luxury, what they are actually doing is fattening themselves for the day of slaughter. His perspective totally alters the view of self-aggrandizement. It helps the readers to know that God will render His judgment in his time. Understand throughout his letter James is addressing brothers and sisters throughout his text.
This is a warning. Not a warning against wealth, but against covetousness. So the warning sounds out clearly to all and any who are tempted to misuse the gift of wealth. The point is not the extent of one’s wealth, but one’s attitude toward the wealth we possess. The reason this is important is because some of us think this is a reason to disavow anyone who is further up the food chain than us. But we shouldn’t do that. If any of you has visited a third world country like Haiti, you will discover people who have no running water or toilets, no electricity and beggars everywhere. So do not think that “rich” does not fit you and me.
All of us need to pay particular attention to what is being said. We need to have a comprehensive understanding of what the Bible says about poverty and wealth.
Alister Begg teaches eleven lessons from the Bible about wealth.
1. The Bible does not cast any aspersions or suspicion upon riches in and of itself. If it did, why would James use Job as an example? He says you have heard of Job’s perseverance and you have seen what the Lord has brought about. Do you know the end of the story of Job? Job 42: 10 “After Job prayed for his friends the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.” He was wealthy before it was all taken away from him, but in the end, God gave him twice as much. That is because the Lord is full of compassion and mercy. There is no condemnation in it.”
2. The Bible warns against and condemns the vices which are the snares of the rich. 1 Timothy 6:17 gives a warning, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” The rich are warned about the temptations to which they are prone: arrogance, boastfulness, control and a false sense of security. Paul tells Timothy to warn people who are tempted to live as if there is no care in the world, as long as their portfolio (money), is intact.
3. The Bible teaches us that contentment is a great gain. 1 Timothy 6: 6: “Godliness with contentment is a great gain.” Contentment is the opposite of covetousness. Covetousness is a form of idolatry. Idolatry is a sin. And in verse 8 Paul says, “But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” That is an alien concept, isn’t it?
4. Riches are an expression of God’s kindness. They are not the only expression of God’s kindness nor the supreme expression of God’s kindness. We saw that in the reference to Job by James. We also see it when God provides everything for our enjoyment. (Verse 17) If we get this wrong, we go severely wrong. It is an expression of God’s kindness. We are given to so that we may love Him, not the wealth. You can’t say “I will trust in you alone” if you are trusting in something other than God.”
5. The Bible teaches us there is a peculiar responsibility that falls on the rich. Again, in 1 Timothy 6: 18: “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.” Interestingly, “In this way, they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” What Paul is saying is that when we go into our earthly treasure, we take from our earthly treasure in order to benefit those who live with earthly impoverishment while we are removing from the bank of earth, we are actually depositing into the bank of heaven.”
Source: Truth For Life
See my next blog for Part 2, and the rest of the eleven points on riches.
Download this free ebook that will help you understand what’s possible once you discover how to become a better steward by eliminating taxes by focusing on Kingdom causes that will enable you to build an enduring family legacy.
By Joe Sturniolo
Christian Family Legacy and Wealth Planning
Joe believes that stronger families are the vehicle God uses to bring about significant impact for His Kingdom.