Tag Archives: money

What About the Rich?

Christians and riches–can the two coexist?  Can a Christian be rich?  These questions can bring all kinds of responses.

Some people try to bind poverty as the only way a true Christian can live. Others claim that the only way to show you’re a faithful Christian is if God’s making you rich!

What is the truth?

In I Timothy 6, Paul shoots some advice to a young preacher–some advice on how to deal with the topic of riches.  This apostle told his son in the faith that there were some who did not consent to the “words of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Timothy 6:3). One of the ways they did not agree to Christ’s teachings was that some “supposed that gain is godliness” (6:5). There were some people back in the first century who believed that getting rich was a sign that God was pleased with them. The same philosophy exists in many religious organizations today, and is referred to as the “prosperity gospel” or the “health and wealth gospel.”

Is this a valid view of riches? Paul sure did not think so!

The Holy Spirit, speaking through Paul, tells Timothy to avoid those people. He says this in no uncertain terms: “from such withdraw thyself” (6:5). He’s telling Timothy, as well as us today, that we’re to stand separate from such people, because they’re in error, not agreeing to the words of Christ.

Paul said that true gain (riches) comes from being godly and being content with what we have (6:6). We weren’t born with money in hand, and when we die, we can’t take it with us. Because of this, we should be content with the food and clothing that we have.

Are you content with the things you own?

But what of those who seek to be rich? Should the Christian seek after earthly treasure?

Jesus spoke of such things many times, all of which are well stated in the words “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things [material needs] will be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). The one who wants to follow Christ won’t put his focus on gaining money and riches, but on gaining heaven. The ones whose desire is for money are in trouble–“they fall into a temptation and a snare” (I Timothy 6:9). Immediately afterwards, God says “the love of money is the root of all evil” (6:10). Those who covet after money have “erred from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”

Being rich is not a sign of God’s approval, but neither is it a sign of his disapproval. The Bible shows what happens to those who put their focus on material wealth instead of spiritual wealth, but does that mean it is wrong to have money?

No it does not.

What this does mean is that the rich are to “not be high-minded, nor put their trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy” (I Timothy 6:17). The rich are to “do good” and “be rich in good works, ready to distribute” to needs that arise (6:18). This is to be done so that they may “lay hold on eternal life” (6:19).

Jesus commands that those who follow Him must lay up “treasures in heaven” and not “treasures upon earth” (Matthew 6:19-20). This is talking about priorities. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). If seeking money is your goal, your heart will be on earthly things. If you are seeking primarily after God, all of your physical needs will be supplied (Matthew 6:33).

What better life could there be than knowing that all of your needs will be taken care of here on earth, plus knowing that after death, you will have a home in heaven? It’s not wrong to have money, but when that becomes the priority in your life over following God, your soul is in jeopardy. Where are you seeking treasure?

-Bradley Cobb

Christianity and Wealth (Christian Solutions to Modern Problems – Part Four)

With this installment of F.W. Mattox’s Christian Solutions to Modern Problems, the writer and professor at Harding College in the mid-1900s addresses the ideas that earning interest is sinful, and that poverty is the pinnacle of Christian virtue.



The critics of Christianity have left no stone unturned to bring it into discredit. It is being stated that the Bible opposed collecting interest on loans, and since the American system is based upon investment of capital for which a return is expected, the Bible is against the American system.

This criticism is based upon the following scripture quotations. In Psalm 15:5, the man that pleases God is described as a man who “putteth not out his money to interest.” In Ezekiel 18:8, the just man is spoken of as “he that hath not given forth upon interest, neither hath taken any increase.” These passages, upon first thought seem to prove the contention, but upon examination it is clearly seen that this prohibition is against taking interest from the poor to whom a loan has been granted in order to sustain life. In Ezekiel 8:17 it is stated that this just man, “hath given bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment; that hath not withdrawn his hand from the poor, that hath not received interest or increase.” In Leviticus 25:35, this idea is even more clearly: stated: “And if thy brother is waxed poor, and his hand fail with thee; then shall thou uphold him …Take thou no interest of him or increase….Thou shalt not give him thy money upon interest, not give him thy victuals for increase.” This same principle applies to the passage in Nehemiah 5:3-13 which condemns the practice of some of the Jews who were taking away the lands of their poor and starving brethren through usury.

There is, however, another type of loan. The loans so far discussed were for subsistence purposes. There was no consideration here given to capital loans—or loans for the purpose of capital investment. This type of loan is made for the purpose of creating greater wealth, and justice would require that the person furnishing the money should share in the increase which his money makes possible. In Matthew 25:14-30 Jesus tells the story of the master who distributed talents to his servants. In this story the men who properly invested the money were rewarded and the man who did not was condemned for his failure. Although the story teaches a spiritual lesson the approval of Jesus for interest on capital investments is clearly seen. The language is as follows, “Wherefore givest thou not my money into the bank, and I at coming should have required it with interest.” Criticisms of the Bible are made by those who do not see the whole picture and accordingly, fail to make distinctions that alter completely premature concepts.


It has just been suggested that Christianity might be misunderstood to such an extent that the charge would be made that Christianity discourages the accumulation of wealth and sanctions poverty. It is unfortunate that any would so misinterpret the teachings of the New Testament. The statement of Jesus to the rich young ruler, “Go, sell what you have, give to the poor, and come follow me,” has been used as a proof text for such an idea. In this case, Jesus is not approving poverty but was dealing with a young man who had a love for possessions that was stronger than his devotion to God. It was this love of money (which the Apostle Paul tells Timothy is the root of all kinds of evil) that was the sin of his life. Evidence that this is correct is seen in the statement that Christians should “Maintain good works (honest occupations) for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.” (Titus 3:14.)

Another criticism stems from a statement in the 5th chapter of the Book of James where the rich are condemned. The passage reads, “Come now, ye rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches are corrupted and your garments are moth-eaten.” This passage has been used to prove that God is displeased with the rich. Such thinking overlooks entirely the 4th verse which gives a clear explanation of why the condemnation is given. It continues by saying, “Behold the hire of the laborers who mowed your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth out.” This is the key to the passage. The rich have a responsibility not to use their power as means of oppression. The passage in no way indicates a condemnation of wealth as such, but rather the un-Christian means used for making the money.

In this connection, some have misunderstood the commendation of Jesus for the widow who gave her last penny into the treasury. In this case, Jesus made the statement that she had given more than they all. But this cannot rightly be interpreted to mean that Jesus is approving poverty and condemning wealth, but rather he is commending the deep devotion of one who was poor. One does not need to be rich to be covetous; neither does one need to be poor to be liberal. Jesus is here commending one who assumes responsibility and this is a keynote of the Christian religion.