Should Christians Be Rich?

3 things Christians need to remember about money and faith.

As members of the Church, we’ve all been exposed to various levels of teachings on prosperity and blessings. Honestly, all of the talk gets kind of confusing after a while. There are extremes on both sides—from those who believe that God wants to make us materially wealthy and that suffering means you aren’t right with God, to those who believe that material wealth is evil and we are only guaranteed trials this side of eternity.

What's tricky is that everyone seems to have a verse to back up their beliefs. So what is the truth? If the Bible says, “We rejoice in our sufferings (Romans 5:3),” and also, “Test me in this ... and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it (Malachi 3:10),” then what can we really expect in this lifetime in regard to prosperity and wealth?

In my life, “considering everything as loss” was a process of giving up the temporary joy that I found in my “stuff.”

Here are three points that have helped me find greater clarity when it comes to the the complicated relationship between money and faith:

1. Our earthly possessions aren’t inherently sinful, but they are temporary.

In Matthew 19, Jesus was approached by a wealthy man who asked him, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” The man tells Jesus that he has already followed the commands of the law and asks, “What still do I lack?” Jesus responds, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” The man left upset because he was rich, and Jesus told His disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, 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."

Many people interpret this passage to mean that rich people can’t enter heaven. We picture the tiny eye of a sewing needle and think about how impossible it would be to put any human being through that small hole. But in his Companion Bible, E.W. Bullinger explains what Jesus was really referring to: "the eye of the needle, a small door fixed in a gate and opened after dark. To pass through, the camel must be unloaded. Hence the difficulty of the rich man. He must be unloaded ... ”

Entering heaven is like entering through this small door. If we are carrying all of our possessions with us and are unwilling to lay them down, we will not be able to pass through. I love the way Bullinger words it: He must be unloaded. In order to enter heaven, we all must be unloaded of our possessions in order to enter the narrow gate and receive the real blessings on the other side.

2. When you “count everything as loss,” you become more thankful for your material wealth, but also less attached to it.

Most of us know of the passage in Philippians 3:7-8, where Paul writes, “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.” In my life, “considering everything as loss” was a process of giving up the temporary joy that I found in my “stuff.” It wasn’t an especially pleasurable process. For a while, I felt like nothing around me could make me happy ever again—until I realized how much joy could be found in Christ. Now, the joy that I find in my possessions is in knowing that anything that I do have is simply a physical expression of God’s love for me. I enjoy my things more now, because the love that they display to me will last much longer than they will. At any moment, I’m willing to surrender any of these things to God for His purpose, because really, they all belong to Him.

3. Suffering is a blessing.

I think that when we go through trials or when God calls us to give things up for Him, we get it in our head that we are doing this 1) to make ourselves worthy before God or 2) to prove our love to Him. But the truth is that your greatest, grandest sacrifice does absolutely nothing to earn favor from God. In fact, such thinking shows that our view of God is far lower than it should be. If God is set apart and holy, then we could never work hard enough to earn right standing with Him. That’s why Jesus had to die. His once and for all sacrifice means that anything we do now to serve God couldn’t possibly be for the purpose of earning our place.

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So then, why do we suffer? I don't wholly know the answer to that, but I do know that in our suffering, it is God's overwhelming love for us that allows us to be transformed. God wants to bless us, but our hearts are so hardened, especially to the spiritual things that He desires to give us. If He were to reveal everything He has for us, we would not be able to receive or understand it. So suffering becomes the training ground; it retrains our hearts and prepares us to receive the good things He has in store.

Does God want to bless you? I believe He does. His desire is to “pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” This doesn’t look exactly the same for everyone, and blessing is not a synonym for wealth, so we can’t measure it simply by comparing bank accounts. While He does meet our needs and provide us with material things, I believe we’ll discover that the spiritual blessings of experiencing His love and living it out in our lives are the most satisfying blessings we could receive.

Top Comments

Lauren Rose

3

Lauren Rose replied to Neil's comment

Those are definitely some tough questions. There are always going to be people who are wealthier than others, and we can't really judge them as a whole because some of them have earned that wealth through hard work. I think for Christians, the most important thing to remember is that everything we have comes from God and we need to be generous with it and be good stewards of it. I think that a large number of Christians who are generous & manage their money well could have a much bigger impact on the economy than we realize.

Jared

3

Jared commented…

"...blessing is not a synonym for wealth, so we can’t measure it simply by comparing bank accounts."

I love this.

8 Comments

Josh Conrad

3

Josh Conrad commented…

I'm nitpicking, but Bullinger's commentary on the 'Needle's Eye' Gate is pure speculation, at best. There is no evidence of a Jerusalem gate with that name or nickname.

Saying that, the rest of Lauren's post was a good read and great insight.

Lauren Rose

3

Lauren Rose replied to Josh Conrad's comment

Josh, the reason I used that example was because I'd heard it preached in church a while back and I liked the analogy of not being able to take our possessions with us. Someone pointed out to me a few days ago that the "eye of the needle" thing is speculation, but I had already submitted the article. However, the point I'm making is still the same. Glad you enjoyed reading this!

Jared

3

Jared commented…

"...blessing is not a synonym for wealth, so we can’t measure it simply by comparing bank accounts."

I love this.

Michael Stephens

10

Neil

30

Neil commented…

We just had a sermon on this. Our minister said the eye of the needle might be literal or metaphorical. He also made the point that compared to the great majority in the world we are very wealthy (I'm in the UK). However, if you take what most people think of as wealthy then I do think we need to ask some hard questions. Why are the top 1% getting so much wealthier than the remainder (despite the global economies state)? Does this matter? (I think it does) and what is wrong with our global economy and is it fixable? If not what are the implications of that for Christians and the church? http://www.theoillamp.co.uk/?p=2053

Lauren Rose

3

Lauren Rose replied to Neil's comment

Those are definitely some tough questions. There are always going to be people who are wealthier than others, and we can't really judge them as a whole because some of them have earned that wealth through hard work. I think for Christians, the most important thing to remember is that everything we have comes from God and we need to be generous with it and be good stewards of it. I think that a large number of Christians who are generous & manage their money well could have a much bigger impact on the economy than we realize.

Ron

11

Ron commented…

I've known too many Christians who worship Mammon, while pretending to worship God...that's essentially what the whole "prosperity gospel" is about. At times, it's like we're back in the middle ages, where wealth was directly equated with godliness.
If there's just one thing I wish Christians would do, it would be to have enough integrity to stand apart from the material mindset of the world. There is one very concrete example of that: Christians should not give in to drug testing. This has absolutely nothing to do with drugs; it has everything to do with claiming/reclaiming your dignity as a human being. I think the average christian simply sees it as part of the "price" you pay for a job...but the price is too high. Privacy should be treated as a sacred right, not something you throw away to please others. Submitting to drug testing is spiritual preparation for taking the mark of the Beast.

Carole Johnson

1

Carole Johnson commented…

The writer of this article is talking Godless drivel when he says that passing through the eye of a needle simply means being unloaded, and I'll explain why. When we die we can take no material possessions with us, so we are all "unloaded" by the process of dying. So let's say that you have a billionaire who worships money, gives nothing to the poor and surrounds himself with all the trappings of worldly riches, when this billionaire dies he will automatically be unloaded of all his worldly wealth, so according to your analogy this billionaire can then get into heaven because he has been unloaded, despite his life of selfishness, money-worship and greed.
You people fucking amaze me, you really do. The mental gymnastics you perform to justify your own material greed and love of mammon. "God meant this..." or "What Jesus really meant to say was..."
Well here is a statement from the mouth of Our Lord Jesus Christ that you cannot twist into a pro-money sermon. Matthew 6:19 "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth." How is that mansion looking now, huh?

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