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Is it all right to want to be wealthy?
By Keith Rawlinson
Volunteer Budget Counselor

I have heard from many people, including pastors, that wanting to be wealthy or rich is wrong for a true Christian.  True Christians should strive to have just enough to get by and should give the rest of their money to the poor.  So, I decided to check the instruction manual and see what it says.  The "instruction manual" is how I refer to the Bible.  That is, after all, what the Bible really is--instructions from God Himself on how we Christians should live our lives.  So, let's see what the instruction manual says about wanting to be wealthy.


Requirements.

Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 
Mat. 6:33

"Seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness" means having a close, saving relationship with Jesus Christ.  It also means striving to be a better Christian and to live the way God wants us to live.  "Added unto you" means that things will be given to, and provided for you.  "All these things" means blessings from God.  Those blessings could be in the form of good health, a close relationship with God, family relationships, friends, or even monetary wealth.  So basically, this verse is saying that we are to first make sure our relationship with God is on track, then God will provide us with blessings.  Notice that the verse indicates that these blessings are a good thing.  And since material wealth is well within the confines of this verse, then it is possible that God will bless with wealth and, if He does so, it is all right and it is a good thing.  But don't forget, the verse also says that we seek God first before worrying about wealth.

Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established.  Prov. 16:3

As far as I can see, this verse is not saying that if you work for the Lord, your wishes will come true.  I think this verse is actually saying that if you do what the Lord wants you to do, then how you perceive, think and feel about things will eventually come into line automatically.  In other words, do the right things, and how you feel about it will take care of itself.  So, don't start thinking that because you do God's work you can start insisting on God giving you wealth.

If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire and it shall be done for you.  John 17:7

This verse sounds pretty good--"Ask what you desire and it will be done for you."  But, it is very important to look at the first part of this verse.  "If you abide in Me and My words abide in you."  In other words, if you are doing as the Lord says and living as the Lord directs and wanting what the Lord wants, then if you ask, you will receive.  That is to say,  if you live as the Lord wants you to live, you will want what the Lord wants, so you will be basically asking the Lord for things He wanted to do in the first place.  That is why it will be done for you.  Therefore, if being wealthy is not what the Lord wants for you, then you can ask all you want and He isn't likely to do it for you.  Put simply, this verse is saying that before we worry about anything for ourselves, we must first be completely in line with God's teachings and be wanting the same things that He wants.

Do you see the common theme of requirements for God to let us be wealthy?  They are: strive to be in a close relationship with God, strive to be right in His eyes, strive to do God's work, strive to be doing with your life what God desires for you and want what God wants.


Warnings.

Along with the requirements, there are also a few warnings in the instruction manual.

Take heed and beware of greed, for one's life does not consist of the abundance of things he possesses.  Luke 12:15

Guard yourself against becoming greedy and understand that the things you own, or the amount of money you have, are not what's most important in your life.  Being saved by Christ's death on the cross, striving to live for God and growing closer to God as your life progresses are what's important.

He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house...  Prov. 15:27

If you become a greedy person, obsessed with acquiring wealth, you will not only bring problems upon yourself, you will bring problems on your entire family.  For instance, if you are raising children, you may be passing your greediness on to them causing them to also have problems later on in their own lives.

You ask and do not receive because you ask amiss that you may spend it on your pleasure.  James 4:3

If you ask for things for selfish reasons, or ask for things that could damage your relationship with God, they will not be given to you.  Make sure your motives are honorable before you even think about wanting to be wealthy.

...be content with such things as you have.  For He Himself said "I  will never leave you or forsake you." Hebrews 13:5

Learn to be content (happy) with what you already have before you start worrying about getting more.  If you are not happy with what you have, you will never be happy with what you want.  In other words, once you gain wealth, you'll want more and more.  That, is greed.  The end of the verse tells us that having Christ in our lives is the most important thing.

The love of money is the root of all sorts of evil.  1 Timothy 6:10

Read this verse very carefully.  A lot of people get it wrong.  A lot of Christians get it wrong.  I have even seen pastors get it wrong.  This verse does not say that money is evil, it says that the love of money is evil.  And it doesn't say that money is the root of all evil, it says that the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil.  In other words, a lot of evil results from the love of money, but not all evil does.  This verse is telling us to be sure that money, wealth, possessions, etc. don't become too important to us.  We might want these things, but we should not love these things.  Wealth or no wealth, we should love God, not money.

...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.  Matthew 19:24

This verse does not say that it is impossible for a rich man to go to Heaven, it says that it is difficult for a rich man to go to heaven.  That is because money has the power to take our focus off of God if we are not careful.  As we are building wealth, we must make considerable effort to keep things in perspective with respect to the verses given in this article, as well as to the many other financial verses scattered throughout the Bible.

Is wanting to be wealthy all right?

There is desirable treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise...  Prov. 21:20

This verse tells us that being wise can lead to having treasure and wealth (oil was a form of wealth in those days).  Throughout the Bible, we are told to be wise; therefore, it must be all right to have treasure and wealth.  In other words, God obviously doesn't think it is wrong for someone to be wealthy.

A faithful man will abound with blessings,..  Prov.  28:20

This verse tells us that if a man is faithful, God will bless him.  From what we read in the previous verse, that blessing might be in the form of material wealth.

...I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.  John 10:10

Jesus came to make our lives more full, not less.  Considering all of the verses in the Bible on the topic of wealth, I believe that God wants our lives to be full both spiritually and materially.  He isn't promising to give all of us physical wealth, but He is indicating that it is all right to have wealth.  Be very careful of those who teach that God wants all Christians to be materially wealthy--it is not true.  God promised to meet our needs.  That means food, clothing, shelter--not piles of money.  If you have clothing, food and shelter, then compared to most of the world, you are already wealthy.


Putting it all together.


From what we have seen in all of these verses:

Does God want all of His people to be materially wealthy?

Absolutely not!  Don't let anyone tell you that it is every Christian's right to be materially wealthy.  There are actually entire religious systems based upon the idea that God wants to make all of His people rich.  It is not true!  God wants some of His people to be wealthy, but He wants some of His people to be less than wealthy--maybe even poor.  Why?  Well, how easy would it be for a rich Christian to go to a poor neighborhood to tell others about Christ?  But, how easy would it be for a poor Christian who lives in that neighborhood to do so?  The opposite is also true.  How many rich people are going to listen to a financially poor Christian wearing old clothes and driving a beat up old car?  But, a rich Christian might be able to reach them.

The point here is that God may want you to become wealthy, or He may not.  It is up to Him not up to you.  That is why the instruction manual says to be content with what we have--we may already be exactly where God wants us to be financially.  Now understand, God doesn't necessarily want His people to all be rich, but He does want all of His people to handle their money wisely and to be out of debt.  Be sure to read the article "Is Debt a Sin."


Bottom line.

It is all right to strive to become wealthy as long as you are following all of the other biblical principles given in this article, and you are willing to be content regardless of how much or how little wealth God allows you to accumulate.

Be sure you know ahead of time what God wants you to do with wealth.

Remember, if you are a Christian and if your relationship with God is strong, then it's all right to want to be wealthy as long as it's also all right to be poor.


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