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Today, many people are striving toward decreasing any debt that they have and increasing their wealth. This is not just those outside the church, but even more so, those within the church walls. The younger generations questions the pursuit or need to be wealthy. This is moreso likely due to political agenda rather than age, but the thought process is relevant.
Case and point: Recently, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon spent 5.5 billion dollars to make his way to space, a flight approximately lasting 10 minutes! Many have cheered him, and equally if not a greater number of people are questioning his expenditure, saying that he could have invested that money into solving world hunger and other problems facing our world rather than using it for a ten-minute space flight. This has sparked us to ask questions regarding wealth and being a Christian.
First, let’s address the tensions we find in Scripture:
1. Trust (…in your riches…not God)
- The passage that speaks to this is one that many know. Matthew 19:24 says, “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (NIV84) This passage, in its context, speaks to the challenge that the rich person has in trusting God, and not trusting their own wealth. Another verse about rich people and trust is Luke 12:20-21, which says, “But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (NIV84) When you have all that you need (and more) there is a tension within to trust in your resources, your wealth, your knowledge and not trust in God!
2. Focus (…on yourself/things…not others)
- “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:34, NIV84) In this passage we see Jesus speaking to his disciples. He was encouraging them not to worry and to know that God is the one that provides for all things and in every way. The believer in Christ is to FOCUS on trusting God (not their own doing, their own means, their own wealth). They are to NOT FOCUS on what they can do to provide and take care of themselves and their family, but focus on the Lord and HIS provision! This is an even greater challenge for those that are rich, for it is SO easy for them to focus on what they have and not trust, rely and focus on God’s provisions. This verse is at the end of this pericope where Jesus is encouraging the listener to sell all that they have, give it to the poor, and trust God for providing for them! Jesus encouraged the wealthy person to NOT focus on himself or his wealth, but think of others by giving to the poor.
3. Status (…in the world…not heaven)
- “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” (Luke 9:25, NIV84) The context of this passage is when Jesus is predicting his death. Jesus is giving pointed thoughts of challenge. There is one nestled in this paragraph that is about gaining the whole world and losing their own soul. I believe it is clear that Jesus was expressing a tension point where the wealthy person is challenged to try to take possession of the world and its riches and to be their own king and director, yet, they wind up in the journey of selling themselves out to the world and not Heaven! The pursuit to gain the world diminishes or blocks out the inner desire to pursue Heaven and the things of God.
So… back to the big question: Can you be rich and be a Christian?
The answer is: ABSOLUTELY YES…AND NO!
If your identity is based on what you own, then there should be question if you are in Christ.
1 Timothy 6:9–10 – But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (ESV)
You can be a believer in Christ. You can follow God and still be wealthy! Look at Scripture at some of the Believers that, according to Scripture, had great riches: Abraham, Job, David, Solomon, Matthew, Joseph of Arimathea, and Lydia.
- Do not trust in their riches (Prov. 11:28)
- Do not be haughty/arrogant with their riches (1 Tim. 6:17)
- Do not oppress the poor (Amos 5:11-12; Micah 2:2; Mal 3:5; Amos 4:1)
- Business owners paying a fair wage (James 5:4-5)
- Don’t love your wealth (Ecclesiastes 5, 1 Timothy 6)
- You can’t serve both God and money (Matthew 6:24)
- Help those who have need (Deut. 15:4-6)
- 1 Timothy 6:17-19)
- Enjoy your money…
- Do good with it…
- Be (or become) wealthy in good works…
- Be generous…
- Be ready to share…
- Store up treasure in heaven…
- Hold firmly to true life!
CONCLUSION // STEWARDSHIP APPLICATION
- Review: Stewardship Lessons From the Richest Man Ever (Episodes 22 & 23)
- What is your heart (attitude) toward wealth?
- What is your motivation for getting/growing wealth? Is that “drive” pulling you away from the Lord, His church, and spiritual disciplines and principles?
- What are you using the wealth for compared to the encouragement we mentioned earlier!
- Pursue Godliness.
- Have an eternal perspective.
- “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven… (Matthew 6:19–20, NIV84)
- Take advantage of our free personal stewardship reviews so you can take your next steps to being a better steward.
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