(Faith Forum Series – Batch 3)
For many, the pursuit of riches is a lifelong dream.
In my lifetime, I have met many people, even in the Church, who desire to be rich. They don’t just want to have enough to get through each day. They want plenty, enough for today and tomorrow and enough to spare.
The word ‘poor’ or ‘poverty’ is despised and people warn you never to use such terms, so dreadful is the idea, in their estimation, of not having plenty, of not living in the abundance of earthly riches and comforts.
This philosophy of plenty, I have found is even prevalent in the Churches. Not all share this view but many believe that it is a worthwhile ambition to seek after riches.
After all, having money and lots of it, means having a nice, big, tastefully decorated house, a nice car (or maybe more than one), nice food to eat and nice places to go on vacation. It means that the world and all of its pleasures become more accessible, for more money means more access to indulge.
People are encouraged to come out in their numbers to get a so-called ‘Prophetic’ word that will bless them and their family with riches… and they believe it. They are promised that if they ‘sow’ money into some so-called Ministry or work, the Lord will bless them with lots of money in return.
Tell me, why would the God who made this universe and everything in it, be crazy about an item that is non-living, made with man’s hands and from His own material?
Money is a mere item of God’s creatION, while he is the everlasting CreaTOR.
Unlike this place we call earth, heaven operates by a whole different and superior system. Many of the things we value here are of little or no significance in heaven. For example, faith in Jesus Christ (not money) is the currency in heaven. Faith applied here on earth, in Jesus Christ alone and in the power of his resurrection, will take you much further in this life through HIS supernatural power from heaven, than a bank account filled with money ever could. This was why the glorified Jesus told the Church at Smyrna which was poor when it came to earthly comforts but full of faith in HIM, “I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich)”(Revelation 2:9).
In fact, money is a useless currency in heaven and this is why salvation can never be purchased with it. For those who have entrusted their lives into the hands of Jesus because they believe on his name, their salvation was purchased with his precious blood when he died on the cross for the sins of the world, not with money.
Yet, people work countless hours, neglect everything else, sometimes even their families and their own health and they do all they can do, just so that they can get more to fill their bank accounts and to enjoy the better life, which they have convinced themselves comes, when you have thick pockets.
Money has grown in such importance that ladies, even in the Church, put it down as a requirement for a spouse. He must have lots of money or come from money, they boldly declare and in so doing, they shut their eyes and their hearts to otherwise decent gentlemen, who, while they love the Lord and would make excellent husbands, they are not wealthy.
As the world runs drunkenly after money, God’s position on riches remains unchanged and is clearly laid out in his book, the Bible. Basically, a study of this book reveals that, when it comes to money, God places people into two categories: Those who don’t have it and those who have it.
CATEGORY 1: IF YOU DON’T HAVE RICHES
If you are not rich, here is what the Bible wants you to know:
1. An increase or gain in earthly and material possessions is not evidence of godliness or an indication that those who have these things are pleasing God with their lives.
Instead, the Bible states that being godly, doing what is right in God’s sight and being content with what you have (however little) is considered to be of great gain spiritually, as it is relevant to your eternal inheritance in heaven.
1 Timothy 6:3-8, refers to those who mistakenly think that more money means more godliness, as having corrupt minds and being destitute of the truth. It tells us that where we find people with this view (even if it is in the Church), we should avoid them, for their thinking is perverse, foolish and flawed. The section reads:
- “If any man teach otherwise and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmising. Perverse disputing of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world and it is certain that we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”
The Laodicean Church is the perfect example of how having lots of money and the comforts of this life, does not mean that you are spiritual and pleasing God. The congregation in Laodicea comprised members that were well off, so-to-speak and this made them feel confident that they had been blessed with all these riches because God was pleased with them and their conduct as so-called Christians.
Yet, the resurrected Jesus gave them a damning report, having assessed them and their conduct. He was not at all pleased because they were no longer on fire for him and his Kingdom and informed John in a vision, to write to them as follows:-
- “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”
Conversely, the Church at Smyrna was an example of a Church that had bought gold tried in the fire. They were fighting a good fight spiritually despite their earthly poverty and Jesus, pleased with them thus far, labelled them rich, meaning rich in faith which was the currency of heaven.
2. Do not desire to have lots of money or pursue after it.
If you have food and clothing, you should be content and thankful to God. Some people don’t even have these things. Do not long after riches. Instead, be content with what you do have and flee from the temptation to love it and to desire to have it, as that temptation is calculated by the devil to steal your faith which is necessary for salvation, as it comes through your profession of faith in Jesus Christ (not money).
Quite frankly, the Bible makes it clear that it is evil to desire to be rich and those that desire this, will fall into the devil’s trap of destruction. In 1 Timothy 6:9, Paul stated: “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.”
He also said in 1 Timothy 6:10-11:
- “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.”
When Jesus was on earth, he said quite a lot of things but I cannot recall him ever exhorting his disciples and believers to desire to be rich or to pursue after it, whether for a good purpose or not. He himself was deliberately placed into a family at birth, that was not rich, although he was the Son of the true and living God and had come from heaven, a place with limitless riches. Joseph, Mary’s husband was a mere Carpenter.
Jesus himself was also not born in a posh, wealthy place but God chose for him to be born in a humble, lowly manger, sending the world a powerful message, that riches are not important as people think they are. All the pomp and grandeur of life that we put so much emphasis on are not really important at all. Living a life that is humble and pleasing to God is far more significant in his eyes.
Jesus himself said in Luke 12:15: “Take heed and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”
He also said in Luke 12:16-21, in recounting the story of a rich man who selfishly lived for himself and his riches:
- “The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods, And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
This man had been full of himself and puffed up because his riches gave him a false sense of security. He had become a god unto himself, forgetting that the very breath he breathed belong to God, who could take it back at any time.
He was selfish, placed all his confidence and security in his wealth and therefore looked to himself for solutions to what he regarded as the problem of having too much, never once thinking of giving some of it away to someone else, although he had more than he could use. Riches had blinded his eyes and made him foolish, so much so, that he saw life as being all about him and his comfort. Yet, life belongs to God.
For those who think that running after money and desperately is necessary for their survival, it is important to note what Jesus had to say. While he knew that as human beings, we get hungry and need food to survive, to those who claimed to know him as Lord, he said in Luke 12:29-34:
- “And seek not ye what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is there will your heart be also.”
In Colossians 3:2-3, Paul encourages those who claim to love the Lord Jesus, to “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God.”
3. It is okay to have a desire to have work to do and to do it well but the reason for wanting work ought not to be so that you could get rich.
Proverbs 23:4 states: “Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.”
The Christian is expected to have a good and industrious work ethic and to strive for excellence as a representative of Christ, not just in secular work but more importantly, the work of God but getting rich and making a lot of money ought not to be the reason you work.
If you have a secular job, you should work honestly and diligently, labouring with your hands unto God, so that you will be able to provide for your needs for yourself and have enough to give to others.
That God expects his children to demonstrate excellence and industriousness through work is clear in the following verses:
- “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grace, whither thou goest.” (Ecclesiastes. 9:10);
- “The soul of the sluggard desireth and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.” (Proverbs 13:4);
- “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.” (Proverbs 6:6-8);
- “The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.” (Proverbs 12:24).
While the Bible does not support ‘get rich quick’ schemes therefore, it clearly condones gainful employment (in work that is honest and pleasing before God), as a means of providing honestly for one’s needs and that of his or her family. This is also evident in the following verses:
- “He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread: but he that followeth vain persons is void of understanding (Proverbs 12:11);
- “In all labour there is profit but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury.” (Proverbs 14:23);
- “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that in quietness they work and eat their own bread.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12);
- And that ye study to be quiet and to do your own business and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without and that ye may have lack of nothing (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12);
- But if any provide not for his own and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith and is worse than an infidel (1 Timothy 5:8);
- Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. (Ephesians 4:28)
4. It is not God’s desire or will that every Christian should be rich.
That all Christians should be rich is preached from many platforms but this is a lie from the pit of hell. God has a purpose for each of his children but it does not always involve riches.
People have exploited the Word of God and in particular the verse where Jesus said that he came to earth so that we might have life and more abundantly. They take this to mean, an abundance of riches but this was not what Jesus meant.
He was not fascinated with riches and materialistic comforts as so many people are today but with doing the will of his Father in heaven and completing the work for which he was sent on earth.
People have adopted the myopic and foolish view that to be blessed by God means money. This is far from the truth. God blesses us every day, without money. The mere fact that you are still alive and have the ability to see this post and the mental faculties to read it and understand is a blessing.
The mere fact that you can walk and talk, that you have a job (no matter how little paying it might be) is a blessing. The mere fact that you are generally healthy, have been protected from accidents and crime and so much else is a blessing. Money is merely one form of blessing that God can choose to give to some of his children but he is not obligated to give it and he has not promised all of them to do so.
For some Christians, it is God’s will and in keeping with his agenda for their lives (which is to bring him, not themselves, glory), for them to be without riches. It is possible to be a Christian and while God will provide for your daily needs, for him to permit you to be poor, whether at a particular stage in life or season or indefinitely.
Some false ‘Preachers’ have lied when they made people believe that if you are a Christian, you are supposed to be rich. This is not biblical-founded and the truth of the Bible exposes them. For, in the Bible, there is a record of people who were godly, saved and yet, God had allowed them to be poor.
Let me cite four (4) such examples:
Firstly, there is the widow and the two mites. In Luke 21:1-4, it says of Jesus:
- “And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.”
Secondly, there is Lazarus the beggar, who, although he suffered from hunger and begged while alive, ended up in heaven.
In Luke 16:19-26, Jesus stated:
- “There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.”
Thirdly, Paul spoke of poor saints at Jerusalem in Romans 15: 25-26, whose needs other Christians had contributed or ministered to. He stated: “But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.”
Fourthly, there is the poverty-stricken Church in Smyrna, who the resurrected Jesus gave John a message to convey. This Church had faithfully served Jesus Christ in the midst of persecution and some were experiencing poverty (yes poverty) as a result.
Jesus did not give them false assurances that he would rain riches upon them while on earth but he reminded them of their eternal reward in heaven. He also let them know that although they were poor when it came to earthly money and other materialistic things, in his sight, they were rich because of all the tribulations and persecution they had endured, without denying his name.
In Revelations 2:8-10, the resurrected Jesus stated:
- “And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”
Not having a lot of money or even being poor is not a reflection in every case of poor spirituality and godliness. Ironically, while Jesus was pleased with the members of the Smyrna Church who were poor as a result of serving Him, he was disgusted with the rich members of the Church at Laodicea. That in itself, says a lot, in terms of what heaven values.
Even as some Christians are called to remain single, it is possible for some Christians to be called to be poor, some for a season, some maybe indefinitely. In the midst of it though, God will ensure that they are sustained and he will provide for their daily needs.
I myself have had seasons where I had absolutely nothing in my bank account and nothing in my cupboards (of my rented apartment) to eat. Yet, God prove himself faithful to me and although I did have moments when he allowed me to go hungry, it was never for too long. He always came through not too long after with a meal for me to eat and also provided my rent money so I wouldn’t be kicked out.
It is possible therefore for God to showcase his glory through a poor Christian, by the extent of that Christian’s faith and dependence on him to daily provide and supernaturally. Indeed, for some of his children, this is the script he has written for their lives.
To sum up what the Bible has to say to those who do not have riches, in Matthew 6:24-34, Jesus said:
- “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (money). Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
CATEGORY 2: IF YOU HAVE RICHES
God can decide to give whoever he wants to give, riches.
This Article does not address situations where people have gotten riches through dishonesty, fraud or robbing other people. The Bible has a lot to say about that and how God will deal with such persons.
If, however, in his wisdom and for his own purposes, (although you did not set your heart upon it), God has decided to give you riches honestly through a good paying job or your hard work or through some other honourable means (like someone leaving you an earthly inheritance), this is what you need to know:
1. It is not your right or entitlement as a Christian, to have this amount of money.
For, apart from the fact that you have done nothing to be worthy of this in heaven, there is no guarantee by God or desire, that all Christians be rich, contrary to the lies that are spread daily from some pulpits. Notwithstanding, God in HIS sovereignty has decided to grant you this, for HIS purposes.
2. Be mindful of the temptations that tend to come to rich people and avoid them.
Avoid for example, becoming haughty and do not place confidence and security in the riches you have as the rich man in the Lazarus story foolishly did. Instead, keep the faith and confidence in Jesus Christ.
Proverbs 18:11 states: “The rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and as an high wall in his own conceit.”
In other words, rich people tend to put confidence for their life security, not in God but in riches. This is foolish but they are deceived in their own pride and conceit.
3. God did not give you the riches solely for your pleasure and benefit but for you to use it to give back to him and to bless others.
In 1 John 3:17, it states: “But whoso hath this world’s good and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?”
Indeed, it is a very sobering call to be rich, for when God grants one of his children riches, it is for a reason. Luke 12:48 states: “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” Riches therefore come with responsibilities and expectations by God.
4. You ought not to get carried away or to fall in love with your riches and lose your heavenly focus but are to stay level-headed and kingdom-minded.
1 Timothy 6:17-19 states:
- “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”
While riches cannot enable a person to purchase a spot to heaven therefore, it can certainly be used by those of God’s children who are saved, to invest in the furtherance of God’s work here on earth and on his Kingdom business. When done with the right motives, this is a wise investment.
Psalm 62:10-11 also reminds the rich person to:
- “Trust not in oppression and become not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them. God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this, that power belongeth unto God.”
5. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.
This is what happened to Job in the Bible. There is always the possibility, even as God can have you serve in a period of poverty for a season, for him to have you serve in a period of riches and then take it all back from you, according to his purposes.
Remember, this life, your life is all about HIS glory, not yours. As his child, he will write your script as HE pleases so as to extract such glory from your life, even if it means that he has to part you and your bank account.
If God decides to do so (as he has in my life on more than one occasion), your love and worship of him should continue because your eternal inheritance (which is where your heart should be) remains unaffected and is in fact reserved in heaven for you. (1 Peter 1:4).
Job knew this and while his wife stopped trusting in God because she hated her changed circumstance, Job continued to worship him. The Bible states that when Job heard that he had lost all his children and his riches, terrible news of which came to him one after the other in succession:
- “Then Job arose and rent his mantle and shaved his head and fell down upon the ground and worshipped. And he said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
SOME FINAL BIBLE VERSES ON RICHES
As I close, here are some further Bible verses on God’s perspective on riches, to meditate on:
- “A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.” (Proverbs 28:20)
- “He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him.” (Proverbs 28:22)
- “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5)
- “Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.” (Proverbs 13:11)
- “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10)
- “Better is little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble therewith.” (Proverbs 15:16)
- “And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” (Luke 12:15)
- “How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!” (Proverbs 16:16)
- “Better is little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble therewith.” (Proverbs 15:16)
- “Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?…Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it…Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver.” (Proverbs 8:1,10-11;18-19)
- “Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me.” (Proverbs 30:8)
- “A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken: but the Lord upholdeth the righteous.” (Psalm 37:16-17)
- “Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven. (Proverbs 23:5)
- “Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death.” (Proverbs 10:2)
- “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.” (Proverbs 22:1)
(Written on 20th July, 2019)
Dear Reader, if you found the above Article to be beneficial, interesting, informative or edifying, you may also be interested in the following:
- Note 136 – ‘Money Is Not The Driving Force In My Life’
Under the ‘SINGLE Daughters of God’ Page:
- Note 276 – ‘Are You In Love With Money? People Who Loved Money To Their Detriment In The Bible’