Wealthy Christians? Is that Biblical?

Today, we’re excited to hear from Reasons for Hope’s CEO, Wade Wacker, as he answers the long-debated question, “Is it okay for a Christian to be rich?” His response, presented with a biblical worldview, should settle this issue for believers once-for-all.
A question that is often asked and debated is if it is okay for a Christian to be rich.  Defining rich is a worldview, and many variables go into this topic, depending on the worldview one is coming from.  Rich according to American standards is in a completely different category than compared to the world itself.  However, once you get past the point of defining how much it takes to be rich, the question remains:  Is it okay for a Christian to be rich?
Let’s dive deeper by elaborating on two sets of Scripture passages (1 Timothy 6:3-10 and Matthew 19:16-24) often used to argue that Christians should not be rich:

1 Timothy 6:10 NKJV

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

As one of the most misquoted verses in the Bible, please note that it does not say that “money is the root of all evil,” which is the claim often made.  Rather, it is the “LOVE” of money that is the root of all evil.  Timothy is teaching us that if we make money the idol, it can lead to many sorrows.  We must be extremely careful not to make money our sole focus and put that before our relationship with Christ.
In today’s world, that is extremely tough to do as money is needed in so many aspects of one’s life. This verse simply and explicitly cautions us that wealth can become a hindrance to our relationship with Him if given a priority in our lives.  Consequently, money is not the evil; the love of it is. This leads to the second passage I want to share.

Matthew 19:23-24 NKJV

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again, I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Did Jesus say it was impossible for a rich man to get to Heaven?  No, He did not.  In this teaching, one must understand the context of why Jesus said what He did.  Jesus just had a conversation with a rich person who was asking what it takes to inherit eternal life (Matthew 19:16-22).  When Jesus told him to sell all his possessions, give to the poor, and follow Him, the rich man walked away sadly.  Jesus knew the heart of the rich man was misguided in his wealth and where his love truly lied.  Hence, Jesus told the disciples that this is the challenge that makes it difficult for a rich person to go to Heaven.
Money can so easily take over one’s life and become the love of it.  One need not look further than Hollywood or Silicon Valley to see the effects of wealth—Christianity and biblical instruction are not even on the radar of most people in that realm.  Money is their god.  The life wealth has created for them is their Baal.
To fully understand this teaching, it is just as important to note what Jesus did not say.  He did not say it is impossible to inherit eternal life if you are rich.  Yes, Jesus knew what money would become in the world and was giving us all a very good warning of how difficult money could make it to keep the focus on Him.  But, creating wealth with right heart for Jesus can still be done, and God left us examples in the Bible of some very rich people who honored Him. Let's briefly look at four of them:

1. Job is described as having many riches.

Job 1:3 NKJV

Also, his possessions were seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred female donkeys, and a very large household, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the East.

2. Abraham was “very rich.”

Genesis 13:1-2 NKJV

Then Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, to the South.  Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold.

3. King David’s wealth was enormous, and Chronicles 
     gives us a strong clue of how wealthy he was.

1 Chronicles 22:14 NKJV

Indeed, I have taken much trouble to prepare for the house of the Lord one hundred thousand talents of gold and one million talents of silver, and bronze and iron beyond measure, for it is so abundant. I have prepared timber and stone also, and you may add to them.

To give one an idea of how much wealth that is, one talent weighs 75 pounds or 1094 troy ounces.  That means that King David gave 109,400,000 troy ounces of gold to his son, Solomon.  With the price of gold today at $1,904 per ounce, that is $208.3 BILLION dollars.  That is just the gold!  When you consider the other assets King David accumulated, the numbers would be much bigger. 

4. King Solomon, by today’s standards, was worth around $2.2 trillion dollars. Remember, Solomon chose wisdom and God still blessed him with riches (2 Chronicles 9:13-29).

These are just a few of the examples of people with riches in the Bible, and the Lord blessed them greatly.  So, to answer the original question: Yes, it is okay for a Christian to be wealthy. However, wealth does come with a price. The world, the flesh, and the devil will often attack as finances can so easily become the front and center of one’s focus.  Because our sinful nature can easily tempt us to step over the line into greediness, we must be wary of that and seek God’s wisdom when that becomes the case.
Wealth can certainly be used to bless the Kingdom. Our Lord knows that some have talents to be missionaries, speakers, pastors, volunteers, elders, church helpers, etc., and others have talents that can create wealth to provide for such ministry.  It takes everyone with their designated gifts to keep the body of Christ healthy and active.   Regardless of the resources He blesses us with (talents, abilities, wealth, etc.), God has entrusted us to do good to further His work in this world.  
To  further encourage you in your walk with Christ, download our free app where you will find hundreds of digital resources to train and equip you to stay bold in your faith. Just click HERE, and look for the blue asterisk on the black background.

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