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Is wealth unbiblical? Our culture might have you think so, but we want to set the record straight.
Dave’s new book, The Legacy Journey, which releases October 21, answers that question as well as others on issues of family legacy, generosity, and how God wants you to use His blessings for His glory.
So, what about that wealth question? Here’s Dave’s answer, in an excerpt from The Legacy Journey.
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Wealth is powerful and, therefore, dangerous. It is not for the spiritually immature. In fact, wealth is so powerful that a significant portion of the Bible’s teaching on wealth focuses on the dangers. As we look at some of the warnings and snares, we should learn to take caution—but this does not mean we are called to avoid wealth as if it were evil. Most of the toxic, antiwealth messages in today’s culture come from people who see a warning to remain cautious and mistakenly turn it into a prohibition. When wealth is viewed incorrectly or handled wrong, it can be a tremendous spiritual problem, so beware.
But avoiding it altogether isn’t the solution. Money is a fact of life, and it’s one of God’s blessings, so let’s learn how to handle it well. . . .
Wealth Is Uncertain
No matter how careful you are or how detailed your financial plan may be, you can never, ever put your faith in wealth. Even with the most careful planning, wealth is uncertain—but God’s provision is constant. You can count on God; you can’t count on the stock market. Amen?
You can be wise with your budgeting, saving, real estate, and investments, but you just can’t count on the economy. When you put all your faith in your stuff, your stuff becomes an idol. Like we just talked about, you start worshipping the provision, not the Provider. Money is not designed to be worshipped; it’s just a tool. If a fine craftsman hand-built you a beautiful piece of furniture, would you thank the craftsman or the tools he used to build it? That sounds silly, but when we put our faith in money, it’s the same as thanking a screwdriver for our new cabinets. It just doesn’t make sense!
In 1 Timothy 6:17, Paul tells Timothy, his young apprentice, “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.” I love that verse for several reasons. First, despite what anyone says about the “evils” of wealth, this verse doesn’t give any hint that wealth is wrong. It simply states that there are wealthy people in the world, and then it instructs them not to be stuck-up, greedy, arrogant jerks. Second, it makes it clear that you can’t put your faith in “uncertain riches.” If you don’t think riches are uncertain, think about someone who loses millions in the stock market just because he bet his whole fortune on one single company’s stock. He was a millionaire one day and broke the next. Can you say Enron? Or what about saving up to buy a brand-new, shiny car that you probably love a little too much, then parking at the mall and watching some kid bounce his mom’s van door off your car? That dent’s a good reminder of how “uncertain” riches can be.
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Riches are fine, but you will not be taking them with you. I have never seen a Ryder truck following a hearse. You can’t trust in “uncertain riches,” but you can completely trust the living God. Third—and this is awesome—where does Paul say wealth comes from? It’s right there: “God, who gives us richly all things.” How about that? If wealth is so evil, why does God give it so richly? And for what purpose does He give us richly all things? So we can enjoy them. Isn’t that interesting?
What’s even more interesting is where this passage falls in Scripture—just seven verses away from the “root of all kinds of evil” verse that so many people use to prove that wealth is morally wrong. This is part of the same discussion! When you take one little step back and look at the context of the passage, it doesn’t make sense to say that riches are evil in and of themselves, because if you read just seven more verses, you see that God is the One who gives us riches, and He gives them to us so that we can enjoy them! And if you read one more verse ahead to 1 Timothy 6:18, you see how much good wealth can do in the world when the wealthy are “rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share.”
Yes, wealth is uncertain, but God is not. God is a rock. He’s steady and secure. You can trust Him to hold your wealth because He’s the One who gave it to you in the first place. Trying to nitpick and micromanage every single economic variable is a recipe for disappointment. We have to be faithful and wise, but we can’t control the things that are out of our control. I like how Martin Luther said it: “I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.”