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What does the Bible say about wealth and blessings? Even among the Christian church, there seems to be a lot of confusion. Preachers and speakers send different messages that only seem to further muddy the waters. Some suggest that wealth is evil and we should live like we are poor. Others are Prosperity Preachers, and teach that God’s will is for all of us to be healthy and wealthy. Most leaders fall somewhere within the spectrum between those two extremes. The thing about growing up in the church is that it’s easy to believe exactly what you have been taught all your life without question. Unfortunately, that’s a common, but dangerous practice. I know I’ve fallen prey to that before and only re-examined one of my beliefs when a friend challenged it. Turns out, she was right. That particular widespread teaching was a conclusion based on what we know of God’s character, but it’s not actually in the Bible. That’s when I learned that maturity in my faith requires me to pick up the Bible myself and unpack these messages and gray areas with personal study and prayer. As I have listened to various speakers that I admire and studied these issues for myself, my husband and I have agreed on some principles regarding biblical finances. Before you blindly take my advice, I encourage you to read the passages yourself and pray about how your faith should impact your financial management.
The Christian Misconception of “Blessings”
We believe that God rewards those who demonstrate faith by tithing and managing money wisely. That is supported in the Bible.
“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.” Matthew 25:23b
“Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.” Proverbs 10:4
“Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” Proverbs 3:9-10
“Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.” Psalm 32:1
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5:8-9
One of my favorite summations about this topic comes from Jen Hatmaker’s book, For the Love:
“If it isn’t also true for a poor, single Christian mom in Haiti, it isn’t true.”
This has become my frame of reference for determining biblical “blessings.” Strength to face a new day, faith to make it through trials, patience to gently guide your children- all blessings. A large house, two new cars in the driveway, a booming career- good things, but not God-promised blessings. Certainly there are times where material things are blessings. You may need a new winter coat or money to pay your monthly rent and when the resources appear unexpectedly, it is a great blessing. You may think I’m working too hard to argue semantics, but I think misuse of this word, especially within the Christian church, is so detrimental. Tossing around the word “blessings” whenever we get something we want creates a sense of entitlement as if we actually deserve anything we have. That is a dangerous precedent for our future and that of our family.
How does this Relate to Biblical Finances?
The Bible has lots to say about wealth as well. Some of these references are positive and some are cautionary. The overall premise is that wealth is not a bad thing as long as it is managed wisely and given freely.
“The wealth of the wise is their crown, but the folly of fools yields folly.” Proverbs 14:24
“One person pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.” Proverbs 13:7
“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.” 1 Timothy 6:17
Many of the major characters in the Old Testament were wealthy including Abraham, Job, Solomon, and Joseph. God chose to put them in a place of influence because they had demonstrated their faith and wisdom. He used them to reach others. I believe God still gives us the same opportunities today. He equips us with the wisdom and knowledge to build wealth and rewards those who manage it wisely. Of course, this doesn’t mean that everything will be smooth sailing as long as you tithe. Likewise, it doesn’t mean that all rich people love God. Instead it is a biblical teaching point for money management. Increase your knowledge, exercise wisdom, live humbly, and the financial rewards will follow. As we know with the above men of the Bible, wealth brings along influence. Like Uncle Ben says in Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility.” There is no denying that money can do a lot of things for a lot of people, both positively and negatively. After accruing your money with wisdom, the other half of being a good steward is using that wealth to honor God and bless his people.
Honoring God with your Wealth
My husband and I are firm believers in the importance of tithing. We absolutely believe that it is a step of faith that God rewards. He has promised over and over again to provide for our needs, but he also commands that we tithe. Why do you think he wants us to tithe in the first place? It’s not for him. He can do anything he wants with whatever he wants. He doesn’t need our money. God’s not limited by any form of currency. Tithing is a faith-building exercise. It’s like a trust fall with our money. Financial Security is the name of an ugly idol in many American households and I have struggled hard with it myself. The temptation to cling to that 10% for the sake of your safety is so strong. It’s human nature to cling to our own resources with everything we have. No matter how many times we have seen God provide, we still operate on the idea that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. That’s why God commanded that we tithe. He requires that we take that small step of faith with every paycheck to remind ourselves regularly who really controls our lives and provides for our families. It keeps us trusting and grounds our faith in his provision rather than our own.
Early in our marriage, we were hustling hard to maintain a tight budget and pay off our $16,000 of school debt. We had determined to continue to tithe even when trimming the fat off our budget. We kept good financial records during that time and still there seems to be more money than there should have been at the end of each month. I truly believe that was God’s provision and reward for our efforts to tithe and manage money wisely. We frequently came in under budget even after we decided to start tithing on our pre-tax income rather than our gross income. God likes to give good things to us, especially when we demonstrate our gratefulness, humility, and responsibility.
Chris and I truly try to honor God with our resources. That’s one of the reasons why I admire and appreciate financial advice from Dave Ramsey’s resources. He prioritizes the same God-honoring principles that we value and we feel comfortable recommending his books and classes to friends and family because we know they can be trusted. Feel free to skip over to his website and look around. There’s lots of good stuff to be found and it ranges from beginner budgeters to advanced retirement planners. Whichever financial resources you choose to use, remember that all are written by fallible humans who are just doing the best they can. God calls us all to different paths in life and that leads to slightly different beliefs about money management, even among Christian teachers. Read their advice and compare it with God’s teachings about money and then prayerfully determine your family’s principles for biblical finances.
As always, I’d love to hear your comments and questions. Feel free to leave them below!
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