Money and the Bible

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What does the Bible teach about money? Is it wrong to be rich even if it is used for good? Which faithful men in Scripture were quite prosperous?

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 Scripture we find that God has a great deal to say about it!

Throughout history money 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 wrong for a Christian to have enough wealth to fulfill more than the basic necessities of life. While many believers do not have much wealth, others are fairly well off.

Is God really against it?

God, as the richest Being in existence, is not necessarily against those who believe in him 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.

Ancient Jerusalem half shekel
Ancient Jerusalem half shekel

Those in the Old Testament 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). His sons Isaac and Jacob also amassed significant wealth. Job possessed great riches before numerous trials stripped him of everything. After his trials were over, however, God personally DOUBLED the wealth he previously possessed (compare Job 1:3 with 42:10 - 12).

King David acquired a great deal of money over time that he, upon his death, passed on to his son Solomon. It should also be noted that God, after Solomon requested wisdom to wisely govern Israel, not only granted his request but also unilaterally decided to make him the wealthiest person in history. The Lord decided to do this even though Solomon had not asked for it (see 1Kings 3:5 - 13)!

The root of ALL evil?

The KJV Bible translation states in 1Timothy 6:10 that "the love of money is THE root of all evil." This is not entirely true, as sins such as anger, sexual lust, pride and others may have little if anything to do with desiring wealth. An accurate translation of this verse clarifies what the Apostle Paul meant.

People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil . . . (1Timothy 6:9 - 10, NIV).

It is the love of riches (greed) and what they can buy that is a root, not the sole cause, of various kinds of (but not all) evil.

Harm if mishandled

Money, although it can be used as a tool to do great good, can also cause us harm. The word of God reveals that riches can be deceiving and lead us away from the Lord. 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).

Good uses

It is interesting to note that God's definition of a good man includes 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).

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.

Recommended Articles
How Heavy Is a Talent of Gold?
Can Rich People Be Saved?
Gold in the Bible
Is Church Fundraising Wrong?
Is It Wrong to Charge Interest on Loans?
What Exactly is Usury?
Should Christians Pay Taxes?

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