What does the Bible say about money?

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What does the Bible teach about money? Is it a sin to be wealthy?

The word "money" is used at 140 times in the King James Bible. Synonyms like gold are mentioned 417 times by name while silver is directly referenced 320 times. If we include still other references to wealth in the Bible, we find that God has a great deal to say about money.

Money, throughout history, has served many purposes. It has been used to fulfill the lusts of people and as a tool to worsen the lives of countless humans. The pursuit of wealth has caused untold suffering and pain through all kinds of sinful behavior.

Greed is considered by some to be one of seven "deadly sins" that lead to still other sins. Money has also be used to alleviate the suffering of others and to extend mercy with hope to those who lack.

Some people believe it is a sin for a Christian to have more money than what is needed for life's necessities. While many believers do not have much wealth, others are fairly well off.

Ancient Jerusalem half shekel
Ancient Jerusalem half shekel

God, as the richest Being in existence, is not necessarily against Christians having more prosperity than what is needed to exist. His concern is how we use money and whether having it in abundance would lead us away of him.

Those in the Bible who were considered wealthy include Abraham. He was so rich that he could afford to support 318 highly trained men as his servants and personal military force (Genesis 14:12 - 14). Job possessed great riches before numerous trials stripped him of everything. After his trials were over, however, God personally blessed him to have double the wealth he previously owned (Job 42:10).

King David acquired a great deal of money over time that he, upon his death, passed on to his son Solomon (arguably the wealthiest human who ever lived). Many other individuals in the Bible who enjoyed abundance include Jacob, Joseph, Daniel and Queen Esther had riches at their disposal.

Gold coin of Roman Emperor Trajan
Gold coin of
Roman Emperor Trajan

It is interesting to note that the Bible's definition of a good man iincludes attaining enough money to leave an inheritance for future generations. Solomon states, "A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the righteous" (Proverbs 13:22).

Perhaps the greatest reason for acquiring money is so that we can help those in need, like the poor, who many times lack resources due to circumstances beyond their control (Proverbs 19:17, 28:27). When we are generous and give to others, we make God our "partner" and benefit ourselves in a variety of ways (3:9 - 10, 11:25).

Money, although it can be used as a tool to do great good, can also cause us harm. The Bible reveals that riches can be deceiving and lead us away from God. It can lead us to believe the illusion that possessions will protect us from adversity (Proverbs 10:15, 18:11).

Solomon stated that all our riches will not protect us when wrath is come (11:4). Those who place an inordinate trust in money will fall (11:28) and their pursuits will be shown as vanity (18:11).

Christians who have been blessed with an abundance of money should use it to do as much good in the world as they can. They should also be mindful that the Bible states some things, like a faithful mate (Proverbs 19:14), a good name and reputation (22:1) and wisdom (16:16) can never be purchased at any price.

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