God's View of Money
It’s difficult to separate ourselves from the world’s view of money. The amount of money we have seems to measure our success, declare our worthiness, and define our place in society. God’s perspective on money is different from that which we observe in the world. Let’s begin with what the Bible says about the importance of having (or not having) wealth.
Being well-to-do doesn’t bring peace.
“Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil. Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred” (Proverbs 15:16-17).
We probably all know wealthy people who are not at peace partly because they’re fearful they’ll lose what they have. And many with wealth are afraid someone will take advantage of them (they can’t trust the ‘help’, the employees, the merchants, etc.) and, thus, they live behind locked gates with security systems, and, sometimes, guards. There are many worries that seem to accompany wealth.
You don’t have to be exceedingly rich to understand this problem. The more we own, the more we must care for. A bigger house requires more maintenance; a bigger yard, more mowing. Every time we buy something, we give up some of our freedom, some of our peace. (If you don’t believe me, get a puppy!)
Wanting more than we have, purchasing more than we can afford, owning more than we should, and spending time taking care of it all . . . all of these cause anxiety. Instead of living with that unrest, the teaching of the New Testament is this: “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6). True peace is found when we are content with what we have, grateful for what God has given and the degree to which he has given it.
Don’t trade integrity for wealth.
Another point the writers of Proverbs make is having money is of secondary importance to having integrity. “Better a poor man whose walk is blameless than a rich man whose ways are perverse (Proverbs 28:6).
In previous studies, we talked about integrity and defined it basically as being in sync with Jesus, following him and his ways in all of our life – inside and out. If we have to compromise that characteristic in any way in order to obtain or keep money, we displease God and disrupt our relationship with him. In matters of money, the wise writers of Proverbs advise that our walk is to be blameless. No one should be able to look at us and criticize the way we seek or achieve financial gain.
Paul tells Timothy the love of money is the root of all kinds of evils (1 Timothy 6:10). It does not mean that every evil in this world comes from love of money, but there are many evils that do. Just think of sins that those who value money or possessions above integrity are tempted to engage in. They may include stealing, dishonesty, fraud, and even decisions concerning choice of marriage partners and commitment (or lack thereof) to marriage relationships. The extremes of money-driven sins could include murder and, in the extreme, war. And that list doesn’t even address the more hidden sins of the heart including lust, covetousness, and greed. So, if we are going to follow the way of wisdom and the path of integrity, we must keep money in its proper perspective – God’s!
Relationship with God is more important than money.
A third lesson taught by Solomon (a rich man, by the way!) is that having money is secondary to our relationship with God. “The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires” (Proverbs 11:4). And, a few verses later, “Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf” (Proverbs 11:28). Jesus confirmed this teaching as well, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:23).
In Jesus’ day (and sometimes yet today) people saw money as a sign of God’s favor. When Jesus made the statement just quoted, he turned that concept on end! He was telling his disciples that wealth is not to be seen as a sign of God’s favor, but, instead, to be aware that money can be a hindrance to relationship with God. Why would that be true? I think it’s because if we think the money we have comes from our own efforts or our own intelligence and hard work, we begin to get self-confident and grow independent from God as our provider. We feel secure and even self-satisfied with what we have been able to provide for ourselves and our families. It seems that if we trust in riches, it is harder for us to trust in God.