If the one who dies with the most toys is the winner, then we should go through life greedily, amassing as much as we can for ourselves. This appears to be our base human nature. We naturally want what pleases our eyes and our senses, but living for pleasure brings misery to one’s soul. We are intended for something else.
So we might try giving time or money to help someone. We feel better about ourselves, but something is still missing—the void.
We were created to be part of God’s kingdom. Each person has an inner void that only God can fill, like a God-sized hole. Something feels wrong and thus we are miserable until God plugs that hole. God fills the void when we see how selfish we are and ask him to forgive us and to teach us to be like him. Click this link for more information on how to join God’s kingdom.
Then God begins a process of changing us to be more like him. The Bible actually describes our inborn selfishness as being a slave to sin (Romans 6:15-23). Jesus can set us free from this bondage, and he sends his Holy Spirit to dwell in us and to teach us. He brings an incredible peace that is worth far more than material possessions.
So, under the Holy Spirit’s guidance, what is the Christian’s view of wealth? I think the answer starts with realizing that God has a master plan, and we are blessed when we play a role in his master plan. He reveals one’s specific role as one walks out life with him. Part of his master plan may involve giving you wealth for a season so that he can use it for specific purposes later.
Consider how God gave the Israelites treasures when they were leaving Egypt.
The people of Israel had also done as Moses told them, for they had asked the Egyptians for silver and gold jewelry and for clothing. And the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.Exodus 12:35-36
God had a purpose for these items, which he reveals later. To God, relationships are more important than money or possessions. So God gives good things to his children to enjoy for a season, but then he may ask for those things back. So a Christian needs to hold on to possessions loosely. Be ready to give them up if God has a need for them in his master plan. Holding things loosely also keeps us from loving things more than the God who created those things.
Moses said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “This is the thing that the LORD has commanded. Take from among you a contribution to the LORD. Whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the LORD’s contribution: gold, silver, and bronze; blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen; goats’ hair, tanned rams’ skins, and goatskins; acacia wood, oil for the light, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, and onyx stones and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece.Exodus 35:4-9
And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him, and brought the LORD’s contribution to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments. So they came, both men and women. All who were of a willing heart brought brooches and earrings and signet rings and armlets, all sorts of gold objects, every man dedicating an offering of gold to the LORD. (Continues to verse 29)Exodus 35:21-22
So God’s purpose was for the Israelites to have what they needed to build a beautiful tabernacle so they could draw close to him. It’s all about relationships, and it starts with our personal relationship with God. God loves to bless his children with good gifts. He knows our needs, and he provides for us, but he doesn’t want us to love the gifts more than we love him. We need to keep our priorities straight and love people, who have eternal souls, more than things.
Consider also how God the Father provided for Jesus when he was a baby. God’s master plan had wise men from the East bring Jesus gifts of gold, frakincense and myrrh (Matthew 2:1-15) Then, just before Herod started killing children in an attempt to destroy the future Jewish king, God sent an angel to tell Joseph to take his family and flee to Egypt. Because God had provided gifts from the wise men, Joseph had what he needed to provide for Mary and Jesus in a foreign land.
In my own life, I have had seasons where money was tight. One season in particular had a child who needed braces, the air conditioning went out, both older cars needed repairs, and we were invaded by carpenter ants and then termites. I could not hold back the tears when the poor man told us we had termites. He was so apologetic. But God provided. As a math person, I was very aware that our outflows far exceeded our income, but somehow we pulled through. I still can’t explain it.
One of my favorite Old Testament stories is about the widow of Zarephath in I Kings 17:8-16. Due to a severe drought, food was scarce, and the widow was about to fix the last meal for herself and her son. But because she obeyed God and baked her last bit of bread for the prophet, God miraculously provided a continual supply of oil and flour for her to make more bread until the drought ended. Do you believe that God can still do this? I do.
Part of faith is believing that God gives us what we need when we need it. He is trustworthy and faithful. Tragedies happen because we live in a fallen world, but we need to keep eternity in mind. So the Christian should look at their possessions as wealth to be managed for God instead of personal possessions to be used for our sole pleasure or our reputation. God has a bigger purpose in mind; he is saving souls for eternity. In general, the more loosely we cling to our wealth, the more we can be trusted with it, and the more he will provide. He is in the business of building his kingdom on earth, and he works through his children to accomplish this.
As you consider your role in God’s kingdom, consider this verse:
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.Matthew 6:19-21
The safest place to store treasure is in heaven. So making sure our kids and friends go there is of utmost importance—far more important than having money in this life. So I have given up a career as an engineer to stay home and help my kids develop a relationship with God. My life’s goal has been to build character into them. The world would call me foolish; think of the years of salary I have given up. But God called me to stay home with them, and I am thankful for my decision.
God has not insulated me from pain; this sinful world affects us all. But even in the midst of a painful miscarriage, God gave me the words of Job 1:21b. “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job spoke these words after receiving the news that his own children had died. In his wisdom, he knew that God’s economy works differently that this world’s. We have to hold on to everything loosely, trusting that God will wipe the tears away from our eyes one day.
One final thought—you can use this as a Loving God vs. Money litmus test. When the father of the Von Trapp family (The Sound of Music) had to choose between serving Hitler or fleeing the country, he left the country. They left behind money and a beautiful estate in Austria, and they had to start again. If you were faced with the same decision, what would you choose?