Christians & Wealth

Today I came across some musings from Dr. David Alan Black on Christians and wealth. I thought I would share it because all of us in the United States of America are wealthy in regards to the rest of the world. May we never forget (1) how wealthy we are (over 1/3 of the world’s population lives on less than $2/day) and (2) how God calls us to steward our wealth for his glory. This is an area where God has been dealing with me over the last several weeks. May it challenge you as it has challenged me!

Wealth and possessions are always subordinate goods in the New Testament, and neither their pursuit nor their acquisition can ever be considered a worthwhile goal for the believer. Our possessions are to be regarded merely as a trust to be used for the good of others. Otherwise they become our curse (Matt. 5:42; Mark 8:34-38; Luke 6:27-36; 10:25-37; 14:12-14; 16:19-31; Acts 4:32-35; Heb. 13:5-6). The problem is that it is very easy to speak about wealth in this manner only in the abstract. Many wealthy Christian Americans simply do not believe that wealth has seductive power. In the New Testament, relating to the poor involves relating to specific persons rather than an abstract class called “the poor.” Simply stating platitudes such as “God loves the poor” or giving some money to charitable causes costs us almost nothing. To actually identify with the poor requires a different kind of commitment — a costly commitment in terms of our time, agendas, and personal resources.

To put this another way: Genuine repentance always has an economic dimension. This is rarely seen in our American megachurch mentality. Upward mobility is where it’s at. As Paul writes in 2 Cor. 2:17, there is money to be made in peddling the Word of God. In 1 Thess. 2:5 he states that piety often masks as a cover for greed. In 1 Tim. 6:3-5 he notes that many think that “godliness” can be lucrative. In 2 Pet. 2:1-3, Peter shows us how “Christian” teachers are motivated by greed to minister. Like Judas (John 12:1-8), we are not genuinely interested in the poor but are only using them for personal advantage. The solution to our problem is found in 1 Tim. 6:17-19: Believers who are rich are to be commanded not to be arrogant or to put their hope in wealth. Instead they are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, and to be willing to share. This will require nothing less than a total conversion to Christ’s view of possessions.

May such repentance begin in my heart. May I move out of ownership and into stewardship. May I learn to be generous with my possessions. May discipleship cost me something.

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