The issue of Christians and money gets a lot of people’s pantaloons all in a bunch. We think of negative stereotypes: Television evangelists trying to swindle widows, prosperity preachers selling you a shinier, prettier Gospel, rich Christians who spend generously… on themselves, that is.
On the flip side, some people think believers are called to a humble, pious, and decidedly broke life. While others see no harm in rollin’ in dough, including driving a fancy car or owning a shamelessly large house. They say you can, of course, still love Jesus and be wealthy.
Alright, so Christians can be rich. I know a few (I covet their shiny SUVs and their expensive looking handbags). But should Christians be rich? Are you already forming your response? People have visceral reactions regarding the topic of money, including anger, guilt, or shame. Here’s what I think about Christians and money…
I think God grants wealth to whom He chooses–it just happens to suck if that person ain’t you. Jesus warns us about the love of money, the entrapment of money, and the temptation of money. He never says, however, “Run away from money!” Or, “If you see money, don’t touch it!” Not to mention that one of the most misquoted verses in the Bible, which happens to be from Christ, is “the love of money is the root of evil,” not money itself. Christians get this one wrong all the time, not to mention everyone else.
There are many verses in scripture that point to God actually dispensing money as provision (go figure, huh? ‘Cause that’s what I think of money as… provision). Deuteronomy 8:18 says, “But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth.” I don’t know about you, but I think this verse is sweet. It is the Lord who gives us power to make money.
Right there, people who want to call money or wealth evil should be silenced. Also, anyone who thinks Christians should be poor must reconcile that idea with the Deuteronomy verse. God allows certain people the power to make money.
So, what should the rich do with their money and what about the rest of us who may not be blessed with superhero dollar-producing skills?
Remember that other verse, “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” from Luke 12:34? This verse applies to every single believer, rich or not. God tells us quite simply that what we love will be reflected in our heart. And what we love in our heart will be reflected by our outward treasure.
In his book, Neither Poverty nor Riches, New Testament Scholar Craig L. Blomberg says this:
“In the most affluent or suburban Western communities, it is impossible to detect any outward differences between the expenditures of professing Christians and the religiously unaffiliated who surround them in their neighborhoods.”
Are we spending millions on Starbucks, but ignoring the basic needs of those around us? Do we give generously because we have been given to generously?
The world sees how Christians spend (or don’t spend) money. They pay attention, even when we think they don’t. God desires Christians to use money to advance His Kingdom, feed the hungry, take care of the orphan and the widow. I’m not just talking about the local church’s money either. I’m talking about our money… my money… your money.
Did you know too that the Bible actually says “money answers everything”? I had no idea, but it’s in there, right in Ecclesiastes 10:19. Money answers everything. Americans do believe this, but the question is, what are we trying to answer with money? Are we trying to buy fulfillment, contentment, or happiness (material possessions, things, and stuff)? Or are we buying freedom, health, provision (giving to the poor, needy, hungry, and hurting)?
I am convicted even as I sit and write this post. If I were to take an inventory of my expenditures over the last 6 months, or even 3 weeks, I don’t think I would be too happy about what I would find. I do not give generously. I give marginally.
I believe the Lord allows and even desires for some Christians to be rich. Besides that fact, He also desires that everyone of us use money to further His Kingdom, whatever amount of money He leads us to give.
The Resurgence puts it this way: “If our hearts belong to Jesus and our lives are devoted to his mission, we need not avoid, demonize, or fear money. We can love God, love people, and use money to enjoy life and do ministry.” We do not need to attach emotions or stigma to money. We simply need to attach Jesus to every dollar we spend. Sounds simple enough? I’m still working on it.
Do you think Christians should be rich? Do you think the Church as a whole handles the issue of money well, or not so well? How do you view money and giving in your own life?
31 thoughts on “Should Christians Be Rich?”
You said “pantaloons”
Yep-er-do…I did, and I just said “yep-er-do”.
Good post, I agree with all that you said. you found some good scriptures.
If every Christian were dirt poor, what Christians would be around to speak into the lives of people who are wealthy or in powerful positions? Paul says to be in the world but not of the world. God loves the wealthy and wants them to come to salvation too, so who’s to say he doesn’t make people wealthy to mingle with other wealthy people. Also, there are many big ministries that are funded by wealthy Christians, missionaries that are given cars, churches that are given buses, etc. As long as each individual is living in obedience to the Lord and as the verse says, REMEMBERING where the power to make money came from, and honoring the Lord with that money, then I think wealth can be good and ordained by the Lord.
Then again, there is something refreshing in my spirit when I hear that people like James Dobson, who has access to much wealth, chooses to live in a normal sized house in a normal neighborhood, etc. Since he is in the public eye he doesn’t want to live extravagantly. I guess it’s refreshing because it’s hard to do and there are many negative examples of Christians doing the opposite in a wrong way and for wrong motives.
We each answer to the Lord, and as long as we are being obedient with what he gives us than we are okay. I think there are some people who actually could have more money if they were obedient in some areas! Money seems to be a tough subject at times for Christians, but I like what you said!
Jill, I love the points you make about God allowing rich people to witness to other rich people. I think that is so true and insightful. Who’s to say that God doesn’t allow some people to become financially successful so the can reach others for Christ in their given sphere of influence.
I agree too that I love the idea of people who have money and serve God, like Dobson, who choose to put material things aside. However, I also know folks who love Christ and really enjoy the fruits of their labor—vacation, homes, etc. They give generously! No question, but they also enjoy what God has given them. I think both can be done. again it all depends on the heart.
Its so refreshing reading posts like this … I totally agree with your comment on this and also with Jill’s follow up …
For me I feel like its a day to day struggle because we can so easily get caught up in wanting wealth for all the wrong reasons …. and that in it self leads to finding our worth in money and forgetting the whole purpose of glorifying our Lord who gives it with so much pleasure in the first place ..
thanks for another challenging post.
Anne, you hit the nail on the head..many people do find their “worth in money” and that is dangerous. If we can have money and continue to find out self-worth, significance, and identity in Christ…how much of an impact could we make? You don’t need millions either to further God’s Kingdom, just obedience and His leading.
Great comment. Thanks.
To be honest, this has been a hard issue for me.
Strictly speaking, of course, Jesus did say to at least one person to “run away from money”, the person He asked to sell all his goods and follow Him. This lead into the famous “camel through the eye of a needle” saying. Now, this has been often debated whether this was simply a command for this particular man, or if this is something that Jesus asks, to some degree or another, of all Christians. I’m probably inclined to say the former.
But, there’s a sinful trend I’ve noticed lately:
the Prosperty Gospel (the notion that the more wealthy one is, the more one is favored by God). It turns the real Gospel into an exclusive social
So… it’s possible for Christians to be wealthy, but with that wealth comes the need to:
1. be humble about it. This should go without saying, but in these times, it needs to be said a lot.
2.use one’s resources for good and not for evil.
Bradley, I agree with you that in the case of the rich young man, Christ did tell him to leave his possessions and follow Him–so yes, I guess in that case Jesus did say “run away from money” in a way.
I think also that the camel through the eye of a needle verse more specifically applies to that particular man. Although, Christ was, I believe attesting to the fact that it is difficult for those with wealth to enter the Kingdom because money can be such a hindrance to our faith and focus on Christ. Prosperity gospels are quite dangerous, I agree. They also perpetuate the lie that you must be doing something wrong, or not have enough faith, or be sinning, if you aren’t “rich.”
I think your two guidelines are great and cover many of the issues that can potentially arise regarding Christians and wealth. Thank you Bradley for your thoughtful comment on this issue.
Nicole, I think I have to disagree with you about part of the camel through the eye of the needle passage. Jesus makes a blanket statement that it is impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. However, right after that, He says that what is impossible for man is possible for God.
I don’t think that Jesus was telling this man to run from money. I think that Jesus was showing him that all of his good works that the man talks about are not enough. The money represented a surrender issue for the man, so He needed to obey Jesus and give it all up in order to get to the kingdom of God. It’s really easy to see this as a works based thing, but I think Jesus was actually trying to show the man that his works weren’t enough.
In the end it’s true for us too, for us it is totally impossible to get into the kingdom of God, but praise God that for Him, everything is possible!
“I think God grants wealth to whom He chooses–it just happens to suck if that person ain’t you.”
My very much better half was telling me a story of a dwelling of Christians she visited yesterday, an opulent palace scattered with the latest and greatest of everything.
And she found herself getting jealous until she remembered it was playing host to a bitter divorce and a shattered family. Our abode may be much more humble and bare, but it is a “home”.
I’m generally not greatly envious of the uber-wealthy. Ecclesiasties 5:12
The sentence you quoted of mine was meant to be tongue in cheek. I certainly don’t walk around grumbling because I’m not rich or because others are. I wouldn’t expect other believers to behave any differently, although I doubt all Christians are content in their financial situation.
I love the illustration and reminder from your friend though. So often what we envy or dare I say, covet, are things that come with heartache, loss, and pain. I was raised by a single mom who worked three jobs. There were times when we did not eat. I am thankful for my childhood, in all its humility and even poverty at times, because it has allowed me to appreciate little things–a simple home, food on my table, clothes for my children, the ability to give.
Obviously, the answer is that God wants you to neither be rich, nor poor. He wants you to be HIS.
Jeff, as I was reading your comment I was hoping you were going to say “Obviously God wants you to be rich. Period.” wink, wink.
No, but I like your answer. “His.” That’s it. So simple. Why do we always take such simple messages and twist them?
Thanks for commenting!
I think that we should want money, because it gives us the capability of helping others.
We should live LESS and give MORE, and we should seek to use what God has given us to achieve wealth so that we can bless others with it.
So many nights I wish that I could have done more for a friend, or for a cause….praying that God would convict the heart of one that could- so that they might give.
While all I have to offer is prayers, the wealthy have the actual means (and still the prayers ;)
So, in my opinion seeking poverty, or intentionally trying to NOT make very much money, is selfish.
(Wow, that was a bold statement! Sorry!)
Let me clarify as well- if you are poor, or don’t have money, I don’t think you are selfish. But, is it okay for Christians to be rich and seek wealth? Absolutely!
I don’t want to read all the comments, so excuse me if this has been brought up already, but the bible has a “more relevant” (By that I mean part of the New Testament as opposed to the Old Testament) passage on money than Ecclesiastes 10:19. That passage is Matthew 19:24 which says “And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” So I disagree with your assessment that Christians can and should strive to be rich, and that God makes some people rich, as that is in direct opposition to one of Jesus’ teachings. That said being rich is different than being able to meet all your needs, in today’s society we basically need a car, but we don’t need a BMW, because my old Toyota gets me from A to B just as well as a shinny new BMW M3.
Totally agree with you
Hi Nicole! I think you ould be interested in this text I’ve written about God vs Wealth: http://poweractivism.wordpress.com/god-vs-wealth/ Christians shouldn’t be rich but instead share what they have with the poor like in the early church.
God bless you!
This is kind of silly. We literally couldn’t have more direct language regarding wealth and being Christian. When it is written that adulterers and those who commit immorality will not inherit God’s kingdom we don’t reason that it means we just need to be balanced about adultery, it means if you practice it, your not going to inherit God’s kingdom. When Jesus givn illustration that demonstrates an impossibility and declarese being rich and getting into the kingdom have the dsame odds(none) then the discussion is over. You can’t be rich and enter God’s kingdom. The real argument should be over who’s rich and who’s poor.
You said it perfectly sir!
Matthew 19:24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
Matthew 19:21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Admit it! You are just too weak to do it (sell everything and give away)! isn’t it Jesus that you want so bad?
Matthew 19:27 With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”
So Yes… it’s possible! Possibility means chance. There is a chance. But would you jeopardise it with being wealthy? Would you risk a slightest chance of being with Jesus? If you would really love you Jesus you would not try to cherry pick bible so that you can have that iPhone and designers bag. You would do ALLLLLL you can to get to Jesus, wouldn’t you? So…. DO YOU LOVE JESUS or you just say you do? :D
I agree with Greg, andee clarke, and John. The author of this post needs to stop mincing words, and misquoting scripture. Take for example, Ecclesiastes 10:19 “A feast is made for laughter, wine makes life merry, and money is the answer for everything.” That isn’t God saying that money solves everyone’s problems, it is saying that everyone has a price! To say the end part of this verse is suggesting money is the solution to every dilemma a Christian faces is just as ludicrous as using the first half of the verse to justify eating and getting drunk whenever we want to laugh and feel merry!
And please, spare me your “oh God really convicted me on how stingy I am whilst I wrote this heretical half assed article” spiel. You know the reason you give marginally and not generously? Because you have completely the wrong attitude towards money! God does not desire us to be rich. He does not desire us to give our money, he wants our TIME. He wants our HEARTS. The world would be a different place if, instead of professing to care about others, and paying some charity to help them, Christians actually physically met the needs of those around them, and took the TIME to become INVOLVED in their communities and showed they CARED. That is what storing up your treasures in heaven is about.
God does not want you to earn enough money to take care of yourself, then worry about everyone else. God wants you to trust him enough to provide for you, as you lay down your material possessions and your ambitions to be rich or even just “well off”. God doesn’t want us to think of ourselves first, he wants us to put others above ourselves in all things that we do! All money can buy is goods and services. Jesus tells us not to store up our treasures on earth, and to be of service to others. Why spend your life trying to stockpile money? Isn’t that what everyone on this earth is doing? Haven’t we been called to be different?
The attitudes expressed in your article are the reason why nobody takes Christians seriously, why we aren’t acting as a catalyst for change in our world, why the church has become stagnant and believers are powerless. Your article makes me sick.
“Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
“Which ones?” he inquired.
Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife[e] or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.”
Your post is interesting, yet hard to follow. Your question starts out “should Christians be rich?” then you talk about money. Being rich does require money, but being poor does not preclude having any money. With the example Ecclesiastes 10:19 you seem to be suggesting that the poor do not have money. This is somehow justifying Christians should be rich. To add to your questionable use of this sentence, the translation is also questionable. the word “things” is not part of the original Hebrew text. There are more examples of questionable translations just in this “chapter”. But that is not the point of your post. My point is one understand what God desires, but not by cut and paste theology.
Clearly the bible does not say none should be rich, but it focus is on how one should look at money and how one should get money. Abraham after defeating the kings refused the ‘money” they offer so that no one could claim to have made him rich. He wanted God to get the credit for how much wealth he had.
Also most of American Capitalist economic principles are un-Godly and therefore un-Christian. Charging interest on loans, (yes interest is usury), paying unfair wages, tax incentives for the rich and the ones who live off the backs of the workers. All this and more are morally wrong. So it would be very hard to be morally Christian and become wealthy using the present Capitalist system.
So should one be rich or poor? It is irrelevant. If we focus on being rich or poor, we are not focus on God.
Interesting article! I am a young guy who just got a professional job and I’ve been thinking (and praying) about what to do with my new income. Ironically, I “stole” it from another Christian who was offered the position but ended up not passing the qualification exam. I passed the exam and he didn’t, but he was praying for me the whole time..so I don’t feel like I stepped on anyone to get there. I gave my life to the Lord in college and I owe all of my success to Him, but I have never believed that God wants us to be mediocre. I remember once getting first place in a college chemistry competition, then witnessing to the second-place finisher right after they gave me the award. I like to think that God is prospering me because He trusts that I won’t exalt myself or spend the money on sinful pursuits. :)
hi me and my wife have a big dream to set up a center to reach youth,homless ,single parents in our town ,,,chesterfield uk .it is 4 in mourning ,and i belive god gave me your site for help sounds nutss i now ,but please pray for us ,to find the money to do this ,,,thank you ian
Hello, I’m very surprised by the pieces in the Bible relating to money. My husband and I are not rich, but we’re not poor either and I’ve always felt we’ve been judged as being unchristian because we are comfortably off. So thank you for clearing up my confusion.
Store up your treasures in heaven for where your treasure is your heart will be also… Paul is the one who says “for the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” in the book of 1 timothy 6:10 …. Jesus did say.,, Luke 12:32 -14
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
The whole chapter of 12 in Luke is about trusting in God for Good works so that we can be Children of God relaying on him rather then our stored up good. … It talks about having all things in common is acts 2 and 3…. nothing is MINE but rather free for anyone to use and have.. …. how doe we rely on him if we know we have money…. dependence on him is key…
If youre eating well while others are going hungry and youre not doing anything about it, youre Christian in name only. If you buy new cars, phones, and waste money on superficial items, you are Christian in name only. Your faith is shown through your works and if you are comfortable while others are in pain you are Christian in name only. Feel free to interpret scripture to fit your lifestyle, so you dont feel too guilty. However, if youre doing this, you are Christian in name only. A true Christian rejects wealth because the only wealth you need is God’s love. I hope all of you re-examine your beliefs.
All Christians believe what they want to believe and interpret how they want to interpret. It is literally impossible for you guys to agree on any differences you are convicted of, this is because you can prove anything if you have assumed that something false is true.the last time I commented here I was a christian, but a lot of thinking has brought me out of the darkness and confusion of Christianity. I say this as an observer from the outside, someone who has read all of the bible and lost so much of my life trying to understand and interpret.
People have been interpreting the bible to support anything they want for the last 1900 years. Your religion is so twisted away from its original nature that I can’t believe you still call it Christianity.
u mean those who have SUV are rich people, this day even the middle class afford to buy SUV at the cost of all their income. because they like to ……
Please elaborate more on how not to reject the love of money when money is our only living ……