We all need money. It is a resource we use to provide ourselves with food, clothes and other necessities of life. We are right to be thankful for the money God has provided us with and yet money also presents us with a strong temptation. In Luke 16:13, Jesus warns us of the dangers of loving money too much: ‘No servant can serve two masters…You cannot serve God and mammon.’
Here are four biblical principles which direct us in our battle to use our resources as God intended:
1) God orders our estate
God is sovereign over all our economic affairs. In Proverbs 30:7-8, Agur acknowledges that God is the sender of poverty and wealth. He says: ‘Give me neither poverty nor riches – Feed me with the food you prescribe for me.’ Paul likewise recognises God as the one who ordains the level of prosperity we enjoy. In 1 Timothy 6:17, he reminds the rich that it is ‘the living God who gives us all things richly to enjoy’.
God teaches us to gratefully accept whatever he sends. If he provides wealth, we may enjoy it; if he sends poverty, we are to be content.
2) Work leads to wealth
God has ordained that, under normal circumstances, diligent work will lead to the generation of wealth. Proverbs 28:19 says: ‘He who tills the land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows frivolity will have poverty enough.’ In the New Testament Paul writes: ‘If anyone will not work, neither will he eat’ (2 Thessalonians 2 v 10). Work is the means God has appointed so that we can obtain the provisions we need.
3) Investment and inheritance
The Bible teaches us the significance of investing our money wisely and providing a legacy for our descendants. The importance of building up our wealth is supported by the weight Scripture places on the need for parents to pass on an inheritance to their children. Numbers 27:8-11 sets out detailed guidelines for who should inherit the family wealth in various circumstances and Proverbs 13:22 states that: ‘A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.’
God’s word teaches that all Christians should give away a proportion of their income. This principle was established in the Old Testament, when the Israelites had to tithe everything they earned, and continues into the New Testament, as Paul teaches in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9. This is a universal standard for all believers to obey; both the rich and the poor should give according to their ability (1 Corinthians 16:2). There are three main categories of people we should give to:
Those who have devoted their lives to ministering to God’s people (1 Corinthians 9:13-14, 1Timothy 5:17-18).
The poor and destitute in our own churches and communities (Acts 2:45 and Acts 6:1-5).
Needy believers around the world (2 Corinthians 8-9).
So how do we ensure that our money does not become a snare and temptation to us? We do it by following God’s biblical pattern. God commands us to work, so we work. He instructs us to save and invest, so we save and invest. He directs us to give generously, so we give generously. God does not teach us to strive to become rich and he does not condone self-inflicted poverty; instead he teaches us that our financial state is ordained by him. We need not spend our lives worrying about how much money we have, since God has promised that if we ‘Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,’ all the other things we need shall be added to us (Matthew 6:33).
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