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
Jesus spent more time talking about money than he did about heaven and hell combined. That might seem like a surprising fact, but in many ways it is not.
Finding your way through the extremes
There are many today who take scriptures like this and would suggest that the Bible teaches that wealth is evil. We should give everything we have so that we are “laying our treasures up in heaven”. If you drive a nice car or have a nice house, then clearly you just aren’t very spiritual. There are whole branches of Christianity that promote this view of the Bible’s teaching.
At the opposite end of the spectrum are the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel folks that teach that prosperity is a blessing of God. God wants his people to be successful. If you struggle in these areas it might be a sign you just don’t have enough faith.
Truth in the middle
I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Money is neither moral or immoral. It is amoral, much like a brick. You can throw a brick through a window, or you can use it to build a hospital. The brick is the same, it is the intent of the person that holds it that matters.
So it is with money. Wealth can be used for great good or great evil. It just depends on the will of the person who holds it.
The danger of wealth
So if money is amoral, then why does the Bible contain so many warnings about it? I think we see the real problem with wealth in this verse.
Our human tendency when we start to amass some wealth is that we start to trust that wealth for our protection. I can’t afford to give because I might need that money. And more importantly I forget how to trust in God for my well being, because I mistakenly think I have provided for myself all I need. This was the mistake of the rich fool that Jesus spoke of.
We can easily become prideful thinking that we have accomplished something great in building up our wealth. We forget that the only reason that we are able to make any money is because God has blessed us with the skills that enable us to be productive in the marketplace. Most of all we forget that God is the owner of it all.
There is also a great temptation to arrogance when we have wealth. We look at what we have accomplished and look down on those that are less fortunate. In some cases it may in fact be that they have not worked as hard as we have or have made very poor decisions. But we also forget the blessings of God that have enabled us to succeed. The blessing of a parent or family member that taught us the value of hard work. The one who who took the time to teach us wise financial decision making. The blessing of living in a country where it is still possible to succeed through hard work. Wealth can cause us to forget those things and lead to an arrogance that causes us to feel we are better than our brother.
Trusting the provider
The real danger of wealth is we can easily begin to trust the provision rather than the provider. We forget about the God who has richly provided us with everything for our enjoyment. We forget that as quickly as our wealth was acquired, it can disappear. But God never disappears. He is our eternal Father. Money may come and money may go. I can acquire houses and fire or flood can destroy them in an instant. I can build an impressive portfolio of stocks but markets can turn in a heartbeat and my wealth can disappear.
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
Don’t worry and ask yourselves, “Will we have anything to eat? Will we have anything to drink? Will we have any clothes to wear?” Only people who don’t know God are always worrying about such things. Your Father in heaven knows that you need all of these. Matthew 6:31-32
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! Matthew 7:11Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God. He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them— he remains faithful forever. He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. The Lord reigns forever Psalm 146:4-10
God wants us to trust Him. He is faithful and will not let us down. The danger of money is that it very easy for us to begin to trust it instead of our heavenly Father who loves us. This is why Jesus said, “you cannot serve both God and money.”
Wealth is neither good or bad. But when you are blessed with money, just be careful and remember to always trust the Provider and don’t fall in love with the provision.