- Posted by Edith Ohaja
- On April 17, 2017
- 104 Comments
Money is a controversial topic in Christian circles. Some believers feel that any rich Christian has missed his or her way. Some go as far as saying that such a person will certainly roast in hell. They believe that is the moral of the story of the rich man and Lazarus told in Luke 16:19-31.
One of those who belong to this first school of thought (though not to the extreme point mentioned above) is Christian activist, Shane Claiborne. In one of his writings, he asserts that, “Asking if it is okay for Christians to be rich is a strange question. It is like asking if it is okay for Christians to overeat, or watch too much TV. It may be permissible, but that doesn’t mean it is a good idea.” Shane believes that if we follow the Scriptures, we will give away any surplus we get. He cites the Lord’s prayer where Christians are admonished to ask God to give us “this day our daily bread,” the emphasis being on “TODAY.” (See that article here.)
Also, Christian Universalist author, Thomas Whittemore wrote in his “Notes and Illustrations of the Parables of the New Testament” that Jesus did not promise his followers “worldly ease, riches or honors: but, … pain, poverty, disgrace and death.”
Other Christians preach and actively seek means of improving their financial situation. Some in the latter group claim that poverty is a disgrace and should not be associated with followers of Jesus. The whole thing has devolved into what is often derogatorily called the prosperity gospel, with the likes of Joel Osteen and Creflo Dollar labelled as its preachers. An article on this issue posted on haroldherring.com and written by Larry H. has the following statements:
“Poverty is not godly and it certainly isn’t biblical.”
“God’s Word does not advocate poverty for anyone!”
“There is nothing sacred, holy, or happy about being poor.”
And so the arguments rage with both sides flinging accusations and sometimes, insults, at each other. I have no intention of joining the fray here. My concern is to present, by God’s grace, the right approach to seeing and handling whatever money we have, be it little or much.
I do need to stress, though, that money cannot be good or bad all by itself. It is what we make of it that it becomes to us. And neither poverty nor prosperity is a proof of piety. One can be poor and covetous. In like manner, one can be rich and yes, covetous, wanting more and more, scheming to snatch what others have. What matters, therefore, is our personal relationship with God, daily living in obedience to His word by His grace or working out our “salvation with fear and trembling” as Apostle Paul puts it in Phillipians 2:12 (KJV).Neither poverty nor prosperity is a proof of piety. #quote See #blog. Click To Tweet
In the light of the foregoing, here are some proper ways a Christian should regard and use money.
6 CORRECT CHRISTIAN VIEWS ABOUT MONEY
1. Our identity or sense of worth should not come from how much money we have. Similarly, the value we place on our fellow human beings should not be determined by how rich or poor they are.
“My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, ‘Sit down at my feet, have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?'” – James 2:1-4
You should not despise yourself or anyone else due to lack of worldly goods and do not exalt people unduly because they own these. We are all special in God’s sight, so special that He sent His One and Only Son to die for us (John 3:16).
2. “Our” money is really not ours. It all belongs to God. We are God’s stewards of our money and whatever else we have. Right from the Old Testament, we are told that the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, all the silver and gold are His (Psalm 24:1, Haggai 2:8). Moses warned the children of Israel not to boast that they got wealth by their own power and wisdom because these things were graciously given by God (Deutronomy 8:17 & 18). Also, when David and the Israelites had given generously towards the building of the temple by his son, Solomon, this is what he declared:
“But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own.” – 1 Chronicles 29:14 & 16.We are God's stewards of our money and whatever else we have. Click To Tweet
And in the New Testament, Paul asks us these incisive questions:
“For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” – 1 Corinthians 4:7 (NIV)
3. Following from No. 2 above, God should be consulted and should have the last say on how our money is spent. In the Old Testament, God specified tithes, offerings and acts of benevolence for His people like leaving gleanings of harvest in their fields. He gave clear instructions about the support of temple services, priests and Levites plus care for strangers, widows, orphans and the destitute thereby. The people were taught these by the priests and the Levites as part of the Law. The whole book of Leviticus is devoted to these commands.
(You may like this hilarious post about giving in church: Home Truth.)
In the New Testament, we have the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide us.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” – Romans 8:14 (KJV)
Personally, I am led to do all of the above, not in the ceremonial sense as in the Old Testament though. There’s so much need in the world today and I believe it’s a privilege to be able to contribute to meeting it. I also remember the scripture that says, “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” – 2 Corinthians 9:6.
When God directs us, we won’t waste our money, spend it selfishly or lavish it on base desires and dissipation. Issues like gambling and living an obscenely opulent lifestyle, especially in the midst of dire poverty, call to question who is inspiring our use of money.There's so much need in the world and it's a privilege to contribute to meeting it. Click To Tweet
4. Our affection should be for God, not for money. The Bible teaches us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, our mind and our strength and to love our neighbour as ourselves. Our Lord Jesus called these the greatest commandments in the Law on which all else rest (Matthew 22:35-40). We are also warned that “the love of money is the root of all evil” – (1 Timothy 6:10 – KJV). When we begin to cherish or idolise money, our hearts begin to harden towards God and our fellow human beings.
5. Our confidence should be in God, not in our money or any earthly wealth. I so appreciate this charge made by Apostle Paul to Timothy.
“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 (NIV).Money can be here today and gone tomorrow, but our God is ever sure. Click To Tweet
6. We should see money as a servant to be sent on errands. This is related to No. 4 above. We should be detached from it. Pursuing and accumulating it shouldn’t be the driving force of our lives. We should send it where God wants it to solve problems, not only where it can be multiplied or replenish itself. It shouldn’t become our Master, controlling our lives.
(You may like this post about pursuit of money: Christian, Flee “Whatever It Takes To Survive”!)
We need the spirit of contentment. Paul exemplified this for us beautifully.
“… I have learned how to get along happily whether I have much or little. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of contentment in every situation, whether it be a full stomach or hunger, plenty or want” – Philippians 4:11 & 12 (TLB).
God who helped Paul to do this can help us to inculcate the same spirit.
My Lord and my God, help me to always acknowledge tthat all I have is from you. May I look to you alone for my sustenance and use whatever money you put in my care according to your leading, supporting the spread of the gospel and sharing liberally with those in need. Deliver me from every form of covetousness and help me to live a contented life that honours You. These I pray, dear Lord, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
The scriptures used in this post are from the English Standard Version of the Holy Bible except where otherwise stated.
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