How should a Christian view wealth?

Question: "How should a Christian view wealth?"

There are many times in the Old Testament that God gave riches to His people. Jacob (Genesis 31:16); the tribe of Manasseh: (Joshua 22:8); Solomon was promised riches and became the richest of all the kings of the earth (1 Kings 3:11-13; 2 Chronicles 9:22); David said in 1 Chronicles 29:12: “Both riches and honor come from You, And You reign over all”; King Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 17:5) and many others. However, They were a chosen people with earthly promises and rewards. They were given a land and all the treasures of it.

In the New Testament there is a different standard. The church was never given a land or the promise of riches. It states in Ephesians 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,” Christ spoke in Matthew 13:22 concerning the seed of God's Word falling among thorns and “the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.” This is the first reference to earthly riches in the New Testament.

In Mark 10:23 Jesus again said: "Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” It was not impossible, as all things are possible with God but it would be “hard”. In Luke 16:13 Jesus spoke about “mammon” (the Aramaic word for riches): “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

God speaks of the true riches He brings to us today in Romans 2:4: “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and long suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” That riches which brings eternal life. Again this is brought out in Romans 9:23: “and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? Also, read Ephesians 1:7: “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace." Referring to God giving mercy, Paul praises God in Romans 11:33: “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!”

The emphasis of the New Testament is God's riches in us: “that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,” (Ephesians1:18b) God actually wants to show off His riches in us in heaven: and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:6,7)

The riches that God wants for us is: “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,” (Ephesians 3:16). The greatest verse that applies for New Testament believers concerning riches is found in Philippians 4:19: “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” This statement was given from Paul because the Philippians had sent sacrificial gifts to take care of Paul's needs.

1 Timothy 6:17 gives a warning to the rich: Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.” James 5:1-3 gives us another warning about riches that were wrongly gained: “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days.” The last time that riches are mentioned in the Bible is found in Revelation 18:17 speaking of the great destruction of Babylon: “‘For in one hour such great riches came to nothing.’”

To summarize: Israel was given earthy promises and rewards as God's earthy chosen people. He gave many illustrations and types and truths through them. Many people desire to take their blessings but not their curses. However, in the progression of revelation God has revealed through Jesus Christ a more excellent ministry: “But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.” (Hebrews 8:6)

God does not condemn anyone for having riches, they come to people from many sources, but He gives grave warnings to those that seek after them more than God and trust in them more than in God. His greatest desire is for us to set our hearts on things above and not on things on this earth. This may sound very high and unobtainable but Paul wrote: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) The secret is knowing Christ as Savior and allowing the Holy Spirit to conform our minds and heart to His (Romans 12:1,2).

Recommended Resource: How to Manage Your Money: An In-Depth Bible Study On Personal Finances by Larry Burkett.

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How should a Christian view wealth?