Some people have the impression that when you are right with God you will be flush with cash, have all you could hope for and then some, and that wealth and prosperity are valid indicators that a person is in good standing with God. Some ministry leaders and Bible teachers maintain this viewpoint and spread it, often tying the miraculous blessing of God to your generosity in donating to their own ministry or cause. What does the Bible actually say? Is there a guarantee of wealth for those who get on God's good side?
If it is wrong to connect being in a right standing with God with worldly wealth, then from where did such an idea originate? It is not new. Going back to the Pharisees at the time of Christ and other groups before, there were those who misunderstood the concept of God's blessing as exclusively worldly wealth (Deuteronomy 30:19) rather than being of a spiritual nature (Ephesians 1:3). To be clear, God is able to bless whomsoever He pleases financially. For example, God gave King Solomon great riches (I Kings 3:13). He restored all that Satan took away from Job twofold (Job 42:10). Abraham, who was called the Friend of God, was quite wealthy. Acts 16:14 described Lydia as a "seller of purple," which was a material for garments that only the wealthy could have afforded. God uses people of means to move His work forward and to fund the Great Commission. In Acts 12:12, John Mark's mother is hosting the church prayer meetings, which would have been most unusual in their culture and would have required a larger-than-average dwelling. God gifts certain people with wealth for the purpose of using that spiritual gift of generosity (Romans 12:8).
Along with all of that, God owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10). The earth is the LORD's (Psalm 24:1a). God can cause funds to appear even in a fish's mouth (Matthew 17:27). God is far more interested in having you than having your money. If He has you, He will have your money. God does not need our money. It belongs to Him anyway. We are merely stewards of it. If God trusts you with much, glory to His name. To whom much is given, much is required. It is a big responsibility. If God has not seen fit to trust you with much, then glory to His name. It is better to be poor with regard to this world and rich with regard to God than vice versa (Luke 12:15, 21). Furthermore, just because a person is wealthy does not mean he or she is right with God. This is another layer to the error of the ancient Pharisees. It is hard for a rich man to enter into Heaven (Matthew 19:23). One reason behind this reality is that riches in this life tend to lead a person to self-sufficiency, which is the opposite of dependence upon the Lord. "The things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:18b). It is far better to "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness," for once our priorities are in their proper order, "all these things will be added unto you," speaking of your necessities of food and clothing. For people with questions on this issue, Matthew 6 is an excellent chapter to study.
Since the Bible does not support the idea that wealth is a litmus test for divine approval, here are some things the Bible does say:
Matthew 6:19-21, "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." (ESV)
Philippians 4:11b-12, "I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself. I know both how to make do with little, and I know how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content — whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need." (CSB)
Colossians 3:2, "Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth." (ESV)
2 Timothy 3:12, "Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution." (NKJV)
When you take the overall tenor of Scripture along with the exact statements in their proper context, it becomes clear that material wealth is given to some who are wicked to bring them to repentance, to some who are righteous to fund the work of God, and withheld from others either for their own good or for God's glory or both. We are to care for the poor at all times and meet the needs of others as God gives us opportunities (Galatians 2:10, Luke 10:35). The Bottom Line: Manage that which God entrusts to your stewardship with great wisdom and responsibility, be content whether God blesses you with much or with little. And always prioritize the next life and the spiritual riches of the glory that is yet to be revealed than anything this sinful world has to offer.
Our Lead Pastor is the writer behind this blog. We pray it ministers to you for the glory of Christ.