Is it God’s desire for us to be rich? Is there anything wrong with pursing riches? What is God’s will for us and money?
The Prosperity Gospel
I could give you a long, long list of prosperity preachers who are name it and claim it preachers but that would make an exceedingly long article so just allow me say that these preachers are distorting the Word of God and making Him out to be a quid pro quo God. That is, they are saying that if you send in your “seed of faith” God is going to have your mortgage paid off, find you a job, pay all your bills, and many other outlandish claims. It has been called the prosperity gospel or sometimes word of faith. Whatever you call it, it is unbiblical and unsubstantiated from God’s teachings, the Bible. Instead of showing you the error of their ways, the Word of God says plenty about such preachers.
Is Money the Root of All Evil?
There are more warnings about riches in the Bible than there are ways in which money will help believers. Key verses in the Bible give us somber warnings about money.
1 Timothy 6:6-11 warns us that there will be “constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”
Money is not the root of all evil but the root of all kinds of evil. Money of itself is not evil but the pursuit of riches is. It is at the root or the bottom of all kinds of evil. My old history professor once said that if you look at human history you will always discover that money is the bottom line. The Jews associated wealth with having God’s favor but that is not supported by Scripture. Contentment is godliness as Paul wrote to Timothy, falling into the pursuit of riches people fall into great temptations. Imagine if you had all the money you could ever want. For most people, it is more than they can handle because they can have anything they want. Lust breeds sin and sin breeds death. Indeed, they are pierced through with “many pangs” because it corrupts the heart. Just as absolute power corrupts absolutely, absolute riches corrupt the human heart.
Does God Want us to Be Rich?
God does want us to prosper in all things as John writes in 3 John 3:2-3 “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.” Some translations say “that you prosper in all things” but the better translation given above is more accurate and John’s prayer is that the church may be in good health and that it “may go well with you.” Sadly, many prosperity preachers take the wrong translation and would have John pray “that you prosper in all things.” God is not against people getting rich but He is against those who pursue riches. Paul wrote “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).
Problems with Wealth
Perhaps the wisest man to have ever lived, with the exception of Jesus Christ, was Solomon and he prayed to God, “give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord? (Proverbs 30:8)? Solomon, who had more riches that we can even image, understood what having everything you ever wanted was like and he found it to be a stumbling block. He asked God to not allow him to be in poverty or riches. He wrote that if we are rich, we would forget God because we would be self-sustaining because who needs God if you have everything you ever wanted? Deuteronomy 8:10-14 “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” Notice that when they increased and their gold and silver multiplied, they would tend to forget God.
Solomon knew that it’s really better to “Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have” (Hebrews 13:5a). It took Solomon a lifetime to discover that having everything you ever wanted brings no true joy as he wrote, “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11).
If Jesus equated God’s blessing to having wealth, then Jesus was not blessed because Jesus says in Matthew 8:20 that “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Can we imagine if Jesus were living on earth today that He would drive a BMW and wear a Rolex watch? Paul warned that he “who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Ephesians 5:5). Jesus said, “No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Luke 16:13). In Luke 12:33-34 Jesus says the true riches will come to those who “sell all [their] possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” That does not mean we should give everything away but we should give to store up treasure in heaven and not on earth.
Someday, all things on this earth will be burned up but what is sent ahead to heaven will remain forever. If you love money, you may not love the Lord. God is not against prosperity but against those who covet riches. “Those who are victorious will inherit all this [eternal life with God in heaven], and I will be their God and they will be my children.” ( Revelation 21:7) because “if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17).
Take a look at this related article, also about money:
Resources: New International Version Bible THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. YouTube video “I’d Rather Have Jesus” by Crystal Lewis.