Tag Archives: money

Is poverty the result of sin in my life?

It’s true that bad choices can make us poor.[1] But in a world damaged by everyone’s sin, there are all kinds of reasons for poverty. To view it as a sign of specific sin in our lives is neither helpful nor accurate.

If poverty means there is sin in our lives, why would Paul say this about the churches in Macedonia: “They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.”[2] Later Paul wrote, “You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor.”[3]

If Jesus was poor, would we dare say that his poverty was a sign of sin in his life? Of course not! Yet Jesus claimed to be homeless. “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head,” he said.[4]

Significantly, many passages in the Bible warn against ill-gotten riches. So we might just as easily ask: Is wealth a sign of sin in my life?

The prophet Jeremiah warned, “Like a partridge that hatches eggs she has not laid, so are those who get their wealth by unjust means.”[5] And the book of Proverbs says, “Evil people get rich for the moment, but the reward of the godly will last.”[6]

The apostle Paul wrote, “I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything.”[7] Yet he too warned against the dangers of wealth. “True godliness with contentment is itself great wealth,” he said.[8] Then he warned, “People who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”[9]

Jesus said, “Don’t store your treasures here on earth.” Instead, he urged, “Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”[10]

It’s dangerous and unfair to generalize, especially when making assumptions about rich or poor people — including ourselves. Material wealth (or the lack of it) is a poor indicator of whether we are following God’s ways. God is building his kingdom with people from across the economic spectrum. What matters most is how we use what he has given us.

[1]. Proverbs 10:4

[2]. 2 Corinthians 8:1-2

[3]. 2 Corinthians 8:9

[4]. Matthew 8:20

[5]. Jeremiah 17:11

[6]. Proverbs 11:18

[7]. Philippians 4:12

[8]. 1Timothy 6:6

[9]. 1 Timothy 6:9-10

[10]. Matthew 6:19-21

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Isn’t Investing Money Just Another Form of Avarice, Like Gambling?

Investment seldom seems like a good idea in the midst of a bad economic downturn. This doesn’t mean that investment is always wrong. There are times when a farmer will invest a lot of time and money in seed and soil preparation and planting of crops, only to see crops destroyed by a drought, flood, or hailstorm.

Scripture doesn’t teach that we should avoid money, but that we should keep it in proper perspective. It is a tool that should be used wisely, not an idol at the center of our life.

In his parable of the unworthy servant, Jesus made it clear that one of the indications of bad faith is an unwillingness to take appropriate risks with the assets God has given us (Matthew 25:24-30).

In our present-day culture, careful investment of money is no different than it would have been for an Israelite to provide for his family through the purchase of property or other marketable items. Life involved risks in ancient Palestine, just as it does today. Droughts or disease could destroy crops, thieves could steal wealth, and war or disease could deprive a person of everything they labored to accumulate.

In a simple “iron age” culture, such as the culture in which the Israelites lived, many of their circumstances were different from ours. Nevertheless, the Israelite farmer would have to plant his seed, trusting God to provide the proper amount of sun and rain to nourish his crop. Most of us don’t make our living through agriculture, but we must wisely invest our time, skills, and our financial assets to provide for our families, the work of the church, and the care of the needy.

The fact that the master was angered by the servant who did not gain interest with his mina (Luke 19:20-24) implies that God expects us be wise in handling everything He gives us—abilities, opportunities, and finances. This can be applied to individuals and to Christian organizations. All of us must handle money as a sacred trust—not letting it “be idle” but using it to do the utmost for the glory of God. This doesn’t mean recklessly gambling or giving it all away—something we might do to avoid the responsibility of managing it properly—but using it wisely so that it can be a source of blessing not only to our family, but to others in need.

The principle from Scripture that is most applicable is that we should not be enslaved by mammon.1 There are many passages that make it clear that God expects us to be good stewards of the assets He has given us, and this principle would undoubtedly include our financial assets.

  1. The New Bible Dictionary offers a concise definition of mammon: “This word occurs in the Bible only in Mt. 6:24 and Lk. 16:9, 11, 13, and is a transliteration of Aramaic mamona. It means simply wealth or profit, but Christ sees in it an egocentric covetousness which claims man’s heart and thereby estranges him from God (Mt. 6:19ff.); when a man ‘owns’ anything, in reality it owns him” (p. 730). Back To Article
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