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.’
4) Giving
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).

Naomi Wells

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  1. Thanks for this Naomi. These are all sound Biblical principles. As Christians living in a part of the world that is always going on about "making poverty history" etc. what should our attitude be to the poor of the world in 'third world countries'? Practically everybody in England are hundreds of times more wealthy than them and many of them lack the basic essential necessities of life. So how should the Biblical principles above (and maybe others?) start to effect our attitudes and actions towards this very large group of people?

  2. Thanks for the article, Naomi. We do need to be wise with our money.

    Thomas, what a good point. In the UK we take SO much for granted. We flick on lights, turn on the taps, open the fridge and have a bath without a second thought. I think that as Christians we need to be wise with our money in this area too.

    There are many organisations taking money off the public, claiming to be helping poverty, but they are actually stealing that money and doing nothing for others. We need to be wise about how and who we give to. One thing I think would be good is if we gave more money to missionary organisations (also churches in poor countries) and those Christian charities who are working on giving people the gospel as well as the necessities they need to survive. That way we can use our money for as much benefit as possible. We have to remember the truths of Galatians 6:10.

    What do other people think? Any thoughts?

  3. Thanks for pointing out Galatians 6:10 Elspeth.
    "So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith." (ESV)

    This may well be a crucial verse by which we determine our priorities for giving. We know from this verse that we are to consider those who are our brothers and sisters that are in need first and after that everyone. Does anybody know any other verses that would inform how we give or who we give to?

  4. Thomas,

    Here are some other verses to help inform our giving

    1 Corinthians 13:3 - ensure/pray/seek that your love is motivated by love rather than feeling guilt etc - this is particular key when thinking of those in 'third world countries' etc

    Matthew 25:40 (in conjunction with Galatians 6:10) - our priority when giving to those in need should be to give first to Christians so Elspeth's point above is important

    Malachi 3:10; Matthew 6:25-26, 34; 2 Corinthians 9:6-11 - give generously to the Lord because He will always provide for us far more than we can ask or imagine

    2 Corinthians 9:7 - plan your giving. Don't just go for the spontaneous approach. Think how much you want to give and then give it. This I would say should apply to the many appeals we get from all sorts of different agencies. Try and think beforehand how much you'd like to give e.g. to say I'll give to my local church 10% of my income and then I'm willing to give another 5-10% to other causes then when they come calling for money you can give knowing you're living in line with 2 Cor 9:7

    1 Corinthians 16:1-2 - give regularly to the local church in line with your income

    I'm sure there are other relevant passages but these are the ones that come to mind for now.

    Kip' Chelashaw

  5. Thanks for sharing those Kip! What a good reminder of the way we should give.

    Anybody else found anything?

  6. What do people think about the parable of the talents that Jesus told, found in Matthew 25? Most people I know speak about it in the context of using our gifts and resources appropriately and making more of them for the use of the Kingdom.

    Since money is a resource God gives us (and what Jesus was talking about in the Bible), it struck me as I was reading through it this time that this means that it's okay - and maybe even an implied should? - for us to invest our money wisely and reap benefit from using it in a good way. Do people think that is a fai way to read the text or extrapilating a bit too much? :-)

    As to giving money to poor people in other countries/missionaries... Personally, my family like the orginisations that don't just help poor people but help them to 'get on their feet' and not need help. Also, as Christians is it important to think about whether the orginisation is actually a Christian one and make it a priority to spread the Gospel? (Or maybe that was taken for granted!)


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