Written by Mergon guest writer, Danie Vermeulen, African Director of Generosity Path
I have been asked many questions about wealth and what the Bible says about it. Questions such as: “How much money is enough? Is it OK to be rich, and how rich?” I have heard business people say: “Our wealth isolates us. It makes us unsure of whom we can trust. It drives us to ask yet another question: “What are the motives of the people around me? What we really want is to be fully known and fully loved, not for what we have but for who we are.”
The question, however, is what the Biblical perspective on wealth is. To be honest, there are several warnings for the wealthy, but the good news is that the Lord blesses some people with wealth for a divine purpose. Some of the holiest and most righteous people in the Bible were wealthy. God blessed Job with wealth after testing him. God blessed King Solomon with both wealth and wisdom. In fact, Solomon is considered to be the wealthiest person who has ever lived. God also blessed Abraham, Jacob and many others with wealth. This suggests that God does not view being rich or having money as being sinful. If that were the case, He would not have blessed so many faithful people with money. There is nothing wrong with saving money, working hard to better your life, setting financial goals, or even being wealthy.
Wealth might look like a resort, but it can also be a prison. Scripture tells us to be careful. As I mentioned, there are warnings in the Scriptures about wealth for specific reasons such as:
- Greed – Matthew 6:19-21; Luke 12:15
- Temptation – 1 Timothy 6:9
- Love of money – 1 Timothy 6:10; Ecclesiastes 5:10
- Arrogance – 1 Timothy 6:17
- Unbalanced priorities – Proverbs 23:4-5
But let’s face it, we all need money to pay rent, eat, provide clothing, etc. So what is money? Money is simply a measure of our resources. There are several different types of resources. There’s land, labour, rare minerals and goods, etc. Money simply represents these resources. It represents worth. It represents utility or “usefulness”.
What is it that frees us from the above warnings? Generosity frees us from and frees us to. Through giving, we’re freed from the love of money. Someone said: “The prosperity message is accumulating; the Generosity message is giving; prosperity plus generosity are sacred stewardship.”
Alan Barnhart, owner of the multi-billion dollar Barnhart Crane company, says: “When it comes to wealth, God owns it all. I am a steward with no rights to what I have.” Where your treasure is there will your heart be also. Needless to say, if our hearts are focused on accumulating things, that is where our treasure will be: in things of this world. But if our hearts are devoted to the Kingdom of God, that is where our treasure will be – sacred stewardship.
What do the Scriptures say about sacred stewardship? We read in 2 Corinthians 8:7 “But just as you excel in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us — see that you also excel in this grace of giving.”
Wealthy business people are often those who have excelled, but it is useless and temporal if we have not excelled in the grace of giving. Generosity is a decision of the heart! It takes you from the duty of giving to the beauty of giving.
There is a divine principle that works in agriculture and also in our spiritual lives: 1 Corinthians 9:6-8 says: 6Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
Generosity toward Kingdom expansion and the poor, with a cheerful heart, will not leave you with insufficiency, or lack, which is the fear of so many. Paul goes on to say to the Corinthian church: “Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us, your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” (2 Corinthians 9:10-11)
The key here is if I give with the intent to accumulate more, this principle does not apply. If my giving is from my heart, toward my treasure (His Kingdom) it will result in thanksgiving to God. God has entrusted you with wealth because there is a divine principle in it – the joy of sacred stewardship!
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