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Have you ever come across a chapter or verse in the Bible that left you scratching your head?
Or maybe you always thought a certain verse meant one thing, only to have your pastor completely blow your mind when he explains it in a completely different way!
I think we’ve all been there as we’ve grown in our understanding of God’s Word. That’s why it’s so important that we keep digging and learning. The Bible is so full of truth that unpacking it often involves peeling away the layers before we understand what God is really saying.
Related: 3 Things the Bible Says About Money
One Bible subject many of us misunderstand is money. You might be shocked to learn that the Bible has anything to say about money! Or maybe you’ve heard a money-related verse misquoted so often that you begin misquoting and misunderstanding it yourself.
And that’s why I want to help clear up any confusion about some popular money-related verses. Below are the three I see misinterpreted most often, plus my explanation of what the Bible is really trying to tell us through them.
1. “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” 1 Timothy 6:10, NIV
Raise your hand if you’ve heard this verse misquoted all the time as saying money is the root of all evil. I have! But it’s just not true. It’s the love of money that gets us in trouble. Our attitude toward money is the problem, not the money itself. Money is morally neutral.
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Throughout the Bible, both the impoverished and the wealthy are considered godly. Job very well could have been the wealthiest person in the world during his time, but the Bible is clear that he was a godly man. When he lost everything, God even replaced it twofold! In fact, sometimes those who were materially blessed, like Job, were also blessed by God with the power to carry out His work. God clearly doesn’t equate money to evil.
2. “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Luke 18:24–25, NIV
Many people use this passage to make the wealthy feel guilty for their financial success. I guess that means we should all aim to be poor, right? But did you know the majority of Americans earn an annual salary that puts them in the top 1% of the world’s wealth? According to that misinterpretation, nobody in America earning more than $34,000 a year will enter the kingdom of God. That’s crazy! And it contradicts the very clear teaching that God’s grace is sufficient.
The reality of this verse is that Jesus is calling out a major stumbling block for anyone who thinks they can get to heaven by their own works: their wealth. If we stop reading there, we miss the whole point. But if we continue to verses 26 and 27, we understand: “They who heard it said, ‘Then who can be saved?’ But He said, ‘The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.’”
This passage doesn’t condemn wealth at all. It’s Jesus’s way of letting the crowd know that none of them can get to heaven by their own effort, but by grace alone. And let’s not forget that just a handful of verses later, Zacchaeus, a rich, tax-collecting crook, accepted Christ and inherited the kingdom of God because of the grace of Jesus. God truly does make the impossible possible.
3. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luke 12:34, NIV
So often that verse is misquoted backward, but the meaning is still mostly the same. It’s telling us that when we look at our budget and our bank statement, we can see where our heart is. So is the large percentage of our money going toward earthly matters, or is it going to fulfill God’s purposes for it? Our spending (or saving or giving) are all good indicators of whether we’re giving our hearts to God or to material things. The wallet is a great window to the soul.
I hope these explanations clear up some common misperceptions when it comes to the Bible and money.
What money verses have you heard that are confusing to you?
Chris Brown is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host, pastor, and dynamic speaker carrying the message of stewardship and intentional living nationwide. Available on radio stations across the country, Chris Brown’s True Stewardship provides biblical solutions and sound advice for questions on life and money. You can follow Chris online at www.stewardship.com, on Twitter at @ChrisBrownOnAir, or at www.facebook.com/ChrisBrownOnAir.