Everything that God made has purpose, and so does everything that God gives to us. To ignore the intended purpose of any gift that He gave us for any reason, would be abuse. For this reason God established a set of guiding principles to govern the proper use of these gifts. It is important to note, for our own benefit, that principles contain both blessing and penalty – blessing when obeyed and penalty when violated. Good Bible study will include looking for principles and how to incorporate them in our daily lives!
Religious people wage war against wealth without considering its origin and purpose. Wealth is holy because it comes from God, as we see in the verse below:
And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. (Deuteronomy 8:18)
Because wealth is holy it would be sin to spend it on anything that is not holy, understanding that the word holy means to be separate – separate from the world and separated unto God. This already indicates how wealth is to be spent, as the verse above also clearly indicates, “that He may establish His covenant…”
God gives us the power to get wealth so that He may use it to establish His covenant on the earth. Think about it: the only money that God has on the earth, is in the hands of His children. This is the money that He uses to finance His operations on the earth: sending the gospel out to the ends of the earth and taking care of the church. Unfortunately, many Christians and churches abuse the wealth that God gave them by living in excess, which has nothing to do with establishing God’s covenant. God doesn’t attract sinners by elaborate church buildings, but by His love and grace. The Holy Spirit uses the truth that is preached to penetrate the heart of the sinner and convicts him of sin, righteousness and judgement. And, paying close attention to the words of Jesus, sinners were not called to come to church, but saints to go out to sinners and preach the gospel where they find them.
The Bible also teaches that we should take care of our families (1 Timothy 5:8) and give to the poor. (Galatians 2:10) Here we already see why Christians should do well financially: we must take care of our families, give to the poor, and finance the gospel.
Jesus summarizes this concept in a single verse of a chapter that, for the greatest part, speaks about money. This is exactly how any covenant works – the two parties working together to take care of each other:
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)
We work on what matters to God, while He works on what matters to us! This might sound like a tough call, but remember, “the just shall live by faith.”
God knows the heart of man and how easily we are tempted, especially when it comes to wealth. For this reason He gave us enough principles to guide us into His ways concerning money matters.
Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine. (Proverbs 3:9-10)
Our giving to the Lord must always be an act of worship. When honouring God is the motive of our giving, we will always do it with the right attitude. We don’t give to keep the lights of the church on, to pay the mortgage or the pastor’s salary; we honour God with it. For this reason it should never, ever, be called a “collection.”
The right way to honour God with our possessions is to give Him the first part of our income. It is hard to call it worship if you give to Him after you paid all your bills. God gave us His Son, His grace, His love, health, skills and opportunities to “get wealth” so the proper way to recognize Him, is to give Him the first part of our income. It is a matter of principle!
By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life. (Proverbs 22:4)
When we give as a matter of principle and honouring God, and in faith believing the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:33 above, we rank God’s honour above our personal needs while also expressing faith in His care for us. See how Solomon explains an act of faith:
He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap. (Ecclesiastes 11:4)
The work that Jesus did on the cross accomplished far more than removing the death penalty from us. Think about it: He took away the very root of sin, and with that the fruit that it bears. When Adam fell from grace, the door opened for all kinds of misery to enter in, such as sickness, poverty, and all kinds of problems that plague us. Jesus even said that He came to take these things away from us! (See Luke 4:18)
Because of widespread abuse in the church today, God’s promise of financial blessing has been tarnished to the point where it became a taboo topic. The devil sows perversion into all of the good things of God to neutralize us in his battle against us. But the truth sets us free, and we should clear it of all misunderstanding and abuse and hold onto it.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)
Jesus became sin so that we might become righteous; (2 Corinthians 5:21) He became sick so that we might be healthy (Isaiah 53:3-5; 1 Peter 2:24); He was tormented on the cross so that we might have peace. Jesus became what we were so that we could have what He had! Some say the verse above speaks of spiritual riches, but that would imply that He was spiritually poor. How could Jesus ever be poor spiritually? Note that this verse is part of a teaching that covers two chapters (2 Corinthians 8 & 9) on money, placing it in the context of material riches.
Wealth has tremendous power to do either good or bad, depending on the heart of its owner. And because of the weakness of man – even Christians – God gave with His promise also some warnings against abuse. It would be foolish to embrace the promise while ignoring the warning! The apostle Paul lays the finger on the problem in his first letter to Timothy:
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:10)
When the love for money is greater than the love for God and His kingdom, sorrow in some form will not be far off. Breaking principles is never a wise thing to do as it will deliver curse instead of the blessing that God intended. Because of the destructive force of wealth it would be foolish to talk about it without mentioning the guiding principles and warnings found in the Bible.
For the turning away of the simple shall slay them and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. (Proverbs 1:32 KJV)
The church has a mammoth task to reach our world with the good news, and any outreach is expensive. Let’s do things the right way and see God’s glory revealed!