The Creation of Wealth
If You’re Chasing Wealth, You’re Running Backwards!
Why an article on “wealth” on a website about health? Because the way we think about wealth and finances has a tremendous impact on our health. Some of the wealthiest people on earth are also some of the sickest people. This is probably due to the stress related to managing wealth.
Stress also occurs when we are poor and facing an uncertain economic future.
Fortunately, the Bible gives clear guidance in all areas regarding finances and wealth. This article summarizes the biblical view of wealth from a Creation perspective, which is essential to understand if you want to live a healthy life.
Jesus’ Teaching on Wealth
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:24-33)
These words of Jesus best sum up the biblical teaching on wealth. As the Creator of the universe, Jesus knows what makes people tick. He knows where their passions and motivations are held. And he knows that people cannot both pursue wealth and pursue God’s purpose for their life.
There is only room in life for one devotion; one master. If you are pursuing wealth, your life is backwards. Wealth is something that is given to us as a blessing while pursuing God’s purpose for our life, as stated in verse 33 in the passage above: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Unfortunately, too many people have it backwards, and feel like they need to pursue wealth in order to fulfill God’s will for their lives.
When reading the opening two statements of this passage by Jesus: “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” – it would seem that he is addressing the rich and wealthy. And while this principle certainly applies to the wealthy, in this context he was not addressing the wealthy, but instead the poor.
Probably the most common motivation in pursuing finances among the poor is the desire to have “security.” If you don’t have a lot of money like a lot of the people in Jesus’ time (and today!), you are probably worried about where you next meal is going to come from, or how you are going to cloth your growing children, etc. You want the peace of mind and security to know you have enough money for the basic necessities of life, so you pursue at least some measure of financial security.
For others, they may want the security of knowing that they will have funds to live off in their time of retirement, when they are not sure if there is going to be someone around to take care of them. Or some may seek funds for their children’s future education. So they seek financial security for their future by building up wealth for the future.
But Jesus doesn’t want us seeking our security in wealth or finances! He wants us to depend on our loving heavenly Father and his care for us day by day. He created us for a purpose, and he loves us very much. As we pursue knowing God and his purpose for our lives, he supplies the wealth we need to fulfill that purpose.
Wealth Beyond Necessities
As we grow in our relationship to our Creator and learn to trust him for our basic needs, we may soon find ourselves showered with blessings from our loving heavenly Father, and we often receive wealth beyond what we need for ourselves.
Some continue to pursue more wealth, but the motivation is not necessarily just “security” any longer. Riches become the goal for obtaining other things in life, such as comfort or power. Wealth becomes a means to obtain other goals in life. These could even be “worthy” goals such as building up our ministry, or giving to charity, etc.
But the principle doesn’t change. It is still backwards to pursue wealth to accomplish our goals, whether godly or not.
Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings like an eagle that flies toward the heavens. (Proverbs 23:4-5)
The principle as taught by Jesus still applies once we find ourselves “wealthy”: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
The apostle Paul in his instruction to his young disciple Timothy also taught this same principle, but instead of the context of the poor who are consumed in pursuing financial security, he warned about the dangers of the love of money among the rich:
Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.
But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time–he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see.
To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. (1 Timothy 6:6-19)
Notice that Paul states that wealth itself is not bad, but the love of it – the desire to be rich: “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” We are to pursue God’s purpose for our life, AND his purpose for our wealth, to serve him and his kingdom.
So whether you are rich or poor, the principle remains the same. It is wrong to pursue wealth! Wealth is a by-product of our pursuit of knowing God, and pursuing his purpose for our life. Wealth should never be our goal. It is simply a vehicle that God uses to accomplish the purposes of his Kingdom.
Examples in Scripture
In the passage above Jesus draws a comparison to Solomon, showing how the richest king of all time could not create something as beautiful as a wild flower in the fields. His Jewish audience would certainly know who Solomon was.
Solomon is also perhaps the most supreme example of Jesus’ principle of wealth. Even though he was the richest man of his day and perhaps of all time, he did not pursue wealth in his path of becoming wealthy:
At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and God said, “Ask what I shall give you.”
And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David my father, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you. And you have kept for him this great and steadfast love and have given him a son to sit on his throne this day.
And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude.
Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?”
It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this.
And God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.“(1 Kings 3:5-14)
Solomon’s purpose in life was to serve his people as their king, and follow in the footsteps of his father King David. He could have used his position as the son of the king to benefit himself and become wealthy. When God appeared to him in a dream asking him what he wanted, he could have asked for riches for himself.
But he didn’t.
He knew what his purpose was in life, and he wanted to fulfill that purpose to the best of his ability, and so he asked for wisdom so that he could serve his people. In his pursuit of knowing God and God’s purpose for his life, God gave him wealth also.
That wealth was used to build the first temple in Jerusalem, and to become a place where people from all over the world would come to learn about the one true God of Israel, the Creator of heaven and earth.
During Solomon’s reign kings and queens from all over the world came to him in Jerusalem to learn his wisdom about God. You can read about it in I Kings chapters 3 through 10. God’s presence resided in the temple in those days, and so the blessing of Solomon spread to all of Israel and the nations of the world.
That is the purpose of wealth!! It was a partial fulfillment of the covenant God made with Abraham as recorded in the book of Genesis, to bless all the families of the earth.
We get glimpses in the New Testament of other people of wealth who seemingly used their wealth in their service to Jesus.
In Luke 8:1-3 we read of some women of wealth who financed Jesus’ ministry.
In Matthew 25:57 we read about “a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus,” and he brought the body of Jesus to his tomb right after Jesus was crucified.
In the book of Acts we see people of wealth and influence using their wealth to help spread the gospel message. Cornelius was a centurion officer in Acts chapter 10 that opens his home to Peter allowing the gospel message to come to non-Jews.
Sergius Paulus was another government official who was a proconsul on the island of Cyprus (Acts 13:4-12). He became a believer and probably was instrumental in the spread of the gospel there.
Crispus was a synagogue leader in the city of Corinth in Acts 18 and was apparently used by God to allow Paul to preach the gospel there for six whole months protecting him from the persecution of the Jews in the area.
There were business owners also who apparently used their wealth from their business to further the gospel, such as Lydia in Acts 16 and Simon the tanner who had a seaside home where Peter stayed in Acts chapter 9.
Stewardship of God’s Creation
To fully understand the purpose of wealth, it is also essential to understand just what wealth is.
Those starting with a faulty Darwinian evolution foundation in life will differ in their view of wealth from those starting with the solid foundation of understanding God’s creation. Simply put, since God (through Jesus) created the universe, and since he continues to hold the universe together, everything in it belongs to him.
The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it. (Psalms 24:1)
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:16-17)
For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth–as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”– yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. (1 Corinthians 8:5-6)
So we don’t really own anything. We only manage resources that God sends our way as we pursue serving him and fulfilling our purpose in life within his kingdom.
Job, a wealthy man in Old Testament times who lost everything at one point, very astutely observed that we came into the world with nothing, and we leave the world with nothing.
He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21)
Paul restates this truth in his instruction to Timothy as quoted above: “Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.”
Wealth is also defined more broadly than just material resources here on earth. In the eternal perspective, wealth includes God’s riches in his future kingdom. Consider the words of Jesus:
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)
When the Wicked Prosper
So if wealth is managing God’s resources, and if the purpose of wealth is to help us fulfill our purpose in life within God’s Kingdom, why do wicked people who don’t care anything about God prosper?
This was a question that perplexed people in Old Testament times as well, because they knew what the purpose of wealth was, but they observed the wicked prospering. Psalm 73 is the key passage in this regard:
A Psalm of Asaph. Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek. They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.
Therefore pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment. Their eyes swell out through fatness; their hearts overflow with follies. They scoff and speak with malice; loftily they threaten oppression. They set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongue struts through the earth.
Therefore his people turn back to them, and find no fault in them. And they say, “How can God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?”
Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches.
All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning. If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed the generation of your children.
But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.
Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors! Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms.
When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you.
Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works. (Psalm 73:1-28)
The answer to the question “Why do the wicked prosper?” is that the game isn’t finished yet. God’s purposes cannot be stopped, and even when wicked people prosper it is part of his eternal network to work out everything just as he planned.
This life is a mere vapor that appears for a moment and then vanishes.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.”
Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. (James 4:13-14)
If a person only has wealth within this life, then that is meaningless in the eternal scope of things. When your body dies and returns to the dust of the earth, your soul continues to live on in eternity.
What you had in this life does not follow you, and it is passed on to someone else.
Ultimately, God’s resources always come back to those who will manage them according to his purposes. Solomon knew this truth and wrote:
“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, and the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.” (Proverbs 13:22)
Where’s Your Heart?
Since our lives here on earth are so short, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to waste time pursuing earthly wealth, especially since everything in this world is temporary and in the process of decaying.
As Jesus stated above in Matthew chapter 6, wherever our treasure is, there will our heart be also.
Do you want to treasure something temporary and in decay, or something that will last for eternity and has real value? We should be seeking treasures in heaven, and not the temporary treasures of this earth. When material wealth in this life does come our way, we need to make sure it does not capture our hearts.
The verse above by Asaph in Psalm 73 has served me well over the years: “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.” It serves as a “heart check” to make sure I am still following the principles Jesus laid out in Matthew 6, to not store up treasures on earth, and to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness here on earth.
There is absolutely nothing here on earth that is more valuable than knowing Jesus, and there should never be anything here on earth that I value more than him. Everything else is temporary, including our other relationships.
If we cannot offer anything we currently possess and value back to him and be willing to leave it all behind right at this very moment, then our hearts have betrayed us and we value our possessions and riches more than Jesus. Those things then become idols in our lives, because we value the creation more than the Creator, because we value the gifts given to us more than we value the Giver who gave them to us in the first place.
Don’t let it happen!! ALWAYS be able to say to Jesus what Asaph said in this Psalm: “There is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.”
Attitude Towards Wealth
There is one tragic story in the New Testament gospels where the wrong attitude towards wealth apparently prevented one person from knowing Jesus:
And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.'”
And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.”
And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”
And the disciples were amazed at his words.
But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”
Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.”
Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Mark 10:17-30)
What a tragedy for this man whom Jesus loved, and who was apparently a devout Jew who followed the commandments of Moses (Luke calls him a “ruler” so it is possible he was part of the ruling Sanhedrin body of religious leaders). He treasured his possessions more than he did Jesus!
Why did Jesus tell him to sell his possessions?
Because Jesus knows the heart of man, and he knows that you can only serve one master. This man apparently had set his heart on his possessions as an idol in his life that prevented him from knowing Jesus.
His riches were not the problem, but his attitude towards them. If he had had the proper attitude towards his possessions, he would have jumped at the opportunity to sell them and follow Jesus, because he would have realized that knowing Jesus is far more important than anything we possess in this life.
Jesus then makes a statement about the rich Jews of his day and time that completely astonished his disciples. He says, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” This was an incredible statement for a Jew to hear, because they equated material wealth with the blessings of God, and as part of the Abrahamic covenant.
But Jesus did not fit into the preconceived ideas that the Jews of his time had of the Messiah (the King from the line of David), of the Kingdom of God, of the chosen people of God, and in this case of material wealth.
Material wealth by itself was not an indication of God’s blessings anymore than being a physical descendant of Abraham was a guarantee of God’s blessing. The ruling class and religious leaders of Jesus’ time rejected him as their Messiah, because he threatened their power base, and because they were not true children of Abraham – children of faith (See John 8:33-44; Romans 9:7-8; Galatians 3:28-29.)
They mistakenly thought that the Messiah would be someone like Solomon, who would return Israel to its former glory years like they saw hundreds of years earlier during Solomon’s reign.
For these people it was very difficult to enter the Kingdom of God that Jesus was presenting to them, and that included those with wealth and influence.
As Jesus says here, it is not impossible, for all things are possible with God, and we do know of some rich and influential people that believed in Jesus.
There were the tax collectors Matthew and Zaccheus (Luke 19:2) who had wealth. Then there was Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimethea who were members of the ruling Sanhedrin and Pharisees who believed in Jesus.
Jesus did not apparently ask these men to sell all their possessions. If they had, Joseph would no longer have had his property with the tomb where Jesus was laid after his crucifixion.
Also, Jesus replies to Peter in this passage above:
“I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.”
These disciples who had left everything to follow Jesus had proper hearts in their attitudes towards wealth, and apparently some of them came to possess wealth later on that was used to advance the kingdom and the gospel message of Jesus.
It should also be noted that Jesus stated that it was difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of God (e.g. they were rich as unbelievers), and not that it was difficult for those already in the kingdom (believers) to become rich.
Co-heirs with Christ
And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. (Galatians 3:29)
This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. (Ephesians 3:6)
As heirs, our inheritance makes us instantly wealthy, as we inherit all the blessings promised to Abraham.
Jesus was the ultimate seed of Abraham, and he was from the line of David in order to fulfill all of the promises, but his physical rule over the earth is still in the future.
His way to the fulfillment of the Abrahamic blessings was the way of the cross – a way of pain and suffering. As we are now co-heirs with Christ, we not only inherit all the blessings, but also the sufferings of Christ in this life.
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:16-17)
In my opinion, this is where a lot of modern teaching on wealth from a biblical perspective falls short. They cover the principles of believers in Christ inheriting the covenant blessings from Abraham, but they stop short of also teaching that the way of Christ is the way of the cross, a way of suffering, persecution, shame, and even physical death.
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:34-37)
Any teaching on wealth that leaves out the way of the cross, the way of suffering, persecution, shame, and death, is only half the teaching, and not the whole truth. This half truth can lead to disappointment and poor health.
Because we are members of the Kingdom of Light which is currently a spiritual kingdom with its source in Heaven, and the predominate kingdom here on earth that we clash with is the kingdom of darkness ruled by Satan, we may often be delayed in receiving all the material blessings that will eventually come our way.
But as we have noted throughout this article, our purpose in this life is to seek first God’s Kingdom and rule. We are not to pursue wealth. We are already wealthy in the spiritual realm – the inheritance is already ours.
Material wealth in this world is not that important, since it is all decaying anyway. It only has value if it aids us in promoting the Kingdom of God.
Therefore, we are to live a life worthy of our calling as co-heirs with Christ, serving him honorably as we manage the resources God may send our way to accomplish his purpose in our life and in the Kingdom.
Our road in this life may be paved with wealth that needs to be managed to accomplish God’s purposes in advancing his Kingdom. At other times the road may be paved with pain and suffering where we seek God’s purpose in our lives as we sow spiritual seeds that will reap a harvest in due time.
No matter what financial condition we are in currently, the ruler of the other kingdom will always oppose us and try to destroy us, and the one area he works hard in is trying to get the heirs of the Kingdom to get side-tracked and start pursuing wealth.
Don’t be tempted! Don’t start running backwards pursuing wealth!
Jesus’ words are clear: “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Look ahead to the future that awaits you in God’s eternal kingdom and press on ahead to fulfill the calling of God on your life and the purpose for which you were created.
Remember the words of Asaph in Psalm 73 and check your heart:
“I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
Hard Work = Wealth
As we conclude this article on wealth, I want to make sure that no one misapplies the principles here to think that because we are already wealthy in the spiritual realm as co-heirs with Christ, and that we are to pursue knowing Christ and furthering the kingdom of God, that this means there are certain tasks or jobs here in this life that are not worthy for us to fulfill.
When there are periods of our life when things are not going well, are we to expect or demand that it is the responsibility for those who are more wealthy than us to provide for all our needs through acts of charity, while we wait for better times to come, or the right job that most suits our education or experience, or whatever?
I don’t see this in the Bible. In fact, I see just the opposite. When times get tough for us financially, then that is the time to serve the most and work the hardest!
Jesus washed the dirty, stinking feet of his disciples (John 13) because no one else would do it and it needed to be done. So is there any job too lowly or too dirty for us to perform?
For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good. (2 Thessalonians 3:11-13)
In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. (Proverbs 14:23)
When we find ourselves in a position where we must work for others (including unbelievers) to earn income, the Matthew 6:33 principle still applies, and even if it is a job we don’t like or feel we are not suited for, we are to do the work with all our heart and strength seeking to please the Lord by pleasing our boss or supervisor, realizing that God owns everything anyway, and any benefit from our work that contributes to the benefit of our employer also will contribute to benefiting the owner of the universe (provided of course that the job is not immoral or illegal).
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.(Ephesians 6:5-8)
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.(Colossians 3:23-24)
We have some great examples of this in the Bible.
Think of David the shepherd boy, the youngest among his brothers who always got stuck with tending the family’s herd of sheep. He did his job faithfully trusting in God and learning spiritual lessons along the way as he fought lions and bears in his protection of the sheep.
Then one day he graduated to a new position in Saul’s army, where all that time he had invested in faithfully guarding the family’s sheep helped him defeat the giant warrior Goliath, and he eventually went on to become the King of Israel.
One of the best examples of this principle is the example of Joseph the son of Jacob as recorded in the last chapters of Genesis.
Joseph was not very wise in his youth, and he got into trouble and ended up being sold as a slave to traders heading for Egypt.
But he took his job seriously and served God and his employer to the best of his ability, and eventually became the head of his master’s household. He was then wrongly accused of a crime and sent to prison for a few years. Again, he worked hard and tried to serve his masters to the best of his abilities in pursuing God’s purpose in his life, and in due time he became the ruler of Egypt second only to Pharaoh.
Imagine what would have happened to both of these young men if they had looked at the difficulty of their circumstances and the drudgery of their work, and had instead led a life of complaining about not being well suited for their jobs instead of seeking the success of their masters and employers?
Their names would probably have never been recorded in history and we would have never known who they were because God would have chosen someone else to fulfill those leadership roles and accomplish his purposes.
Don’t make that mistake in your life! If you have been reborn into God’s family and kingdom, you are already wealthy as a co-heir with Christ. Seek first the Kingdom of God by putting other people’s needs ahead of your own desires, and seek their success above your own. In doing so you will be serving Christ and investing in his Kingdom.
To summarize what we have covered in this article in viewing wealth from the foundation of a biblical Creation perspective:
- Christ gives us the principle for wealth in Matthew chapter 6. We cannot serve both money and God, and we are not to pursue wealth, but God’s Kingdom and his purpose in our life in advancing his kingdom.
- All wealth and resources belong to God, because he is the Creator and owner of the universe. Any resources that come our way are to be used for his purpose and the advance of his kingdom.
- If God gives us material wealth, we are not to treasure it and let it lead our hearts away from our devotion to Christ. We should test our hearts regularly and make sure we don’t value anything as more important than Christ. Everything in this world is temporary and is in the process of decaying.
- We are already wealthy as co-heirs with Christ and have inherited all the promises given to Abraham if we are reborn into the Kingdom of Christ.
- We have not fully come into our inheritance in this life, and we may be called upon to work hard as servants rather than leaders serving Christ in all that we do for the sake of advancing the Kingdom. Just as Christ suffered in this world, our road is also paved with persecution, shame, and suffering.
Imagine how much better life would be if everyone followed these principles Christ gave us for wealth?
Employees would seek the benefit of their employers by serving Christ, and employers would seek the benefit of both their employees and their customers by serving their needs instead of seeking wealth.
The end result would be more wealth than we could ever use for ourselves, with many resources available to invest in advancing God’s Kingdom here on earth!
But even if we don’t follow these principles, be assured that God’s purposes cannot be stopped, and his Kingdom will advance with or without our help.
So stop pursuing wealth and get with the game plan! If you are a wealthy co-heir with Christ, start acting like one. Imitate Christ. When he came to earth he laid aside his rights and power as the Lord and Creator of the universe and served our needs by allowing sinful men to nail him to the cross for our sins, thus fulfilling the purpose of God in establishing the Kingdom.
It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:26-28)
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:1-11)