Money is neutral – there is nothing good nor bad about money or wealth itself. Money is generally just a means to acquiring resources, and has no real value on its own. What then does the Bible teach us about what our attitude should be towards our finances?
First, we are not to allow money to become an idol to us. Loving money (and that which it can buy) can cost us our very lives. God is to come first. Our priority in life shouldn’t be focused on money, either earning it or spending it.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. 1 Timothy 6:10
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? Matthew 16:26
Second, our priority should be God’s Kingdom. What is treasure in heaven, exactly? Treasure in heaven is souls – anything we do to help get souls in heaven is treasure. Our good works, our mature fruit, is treasure in heaven. Anything we do or give to God to further His kingdom is treasure in heaven.
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:20-21
Third, everything is God’s. We are accountable to God for all that He gives us . This includes finances – how He blesses us with the capability to work, as well as what we do with the money we earn. The reason we are accountable is that it isn’t really ours to begin with. Did we choose who our parents were? Did we choose our country of birth? Or the year we were born? God sovereignly placed us in a specific time, place, and family. He gives us time, talents, and resources – all of us individually, according to our abilities – and expects us to use them wisely. We put our money to work for God’s kingdom when we invest it in the eternal. We are God’s stewards – He entrusts us with His resources and will demand an accounting of them in the future.
The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it. Psalm 24:1
“For it is just like a man going on a journey. He called his own slaves and turned over his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents; to another, two; and to another, one—to each according to his own ability. Then he went on a journey. Immediately the man who had received five talents went, put them to work, and earned five more…. “After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five talents approached, presented five more talents, and said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. Look, I’ve earned five more talents.’ “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy!’ Matthew 25:14-16, 19-21
Fourth, God blesses us when we give to His kingdom. It is a biblical principle that we reap what we sow. God doesn’t necessarily bless us with earthly wealth, but with something much more valuable – a harvest of righteousness.
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 2 Corinthians 9:6-12
Fifth, God is more concerned about the heart behind our giving than the dollar value.
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44
Finally, we are to provide for our needs, our family’s needs, and other believers’ needs.
“and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.” 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need. Acts 2:44-45
“Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or without clothes and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and visit You?’ “And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’ Matthew 25:37-40
So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Matthew 6:31-33
So, what can we take home? God wants us to love Him most of all, with all our heart, soul, and strength – more than anything or anyone else in this world. That includes trusting Him. He knows our needs and promises to provide them if we seek His kingdom first (what does that mean? It means focusing on eternity instead of on earth.). That said, He expects us to work and to use our resources wisely. We will reap what we sow.
It’s important that we concentrate on the difference between Needs and Wants. God allows us to have some of our wants, but these can sometimes be a snare to us – dragging us towards coveting, pride, vanity and other sins. TV, movies, sports, entertainment, eating out, getting your nails or hair done – these are all wants. Not necessarily bad, but we should keep our eyes open for temptations to sin through them. For example, is someone else raising our children because we have so many Wants that we “need” to have both parents work? This is something to prayerfully consider. God gives your children to you as one of His resources. He expects you to raise them wisely, in the fear and knowledge of the Lord. You will give an account to Him on how you raised His children. This is not meant to threaten or guilt anyone – it’s solely between you and God. We all fall short, and need to pray for God to forgive and guide us.
It’s not “bad” to be rich – God uses people in all positions of social class and standing. However, the more we have, the more that will be expected of us. We must always be on guard that we are trusting in God and not in our wealth. Wealth is temporary, and can be lost in a moment. Wealth can also lead us to lust after the things of this world.
God desires that we give to furthering His kingdom and to helping meet other believers’ needs. This is open-ended, and should prayerfully be discussed with God. Let Him guide your heart. This can include giving to specific believers, charities, churches. It can include giving of your money, but also of your time, talents, or other resources. You are only responsible for your own resources, not your spouse’s (if you have one) – but ideally, you would discuss this together. Each one of us will stand before God independently.
A question that frequently comes up is what about Tithing? Is it Biblical to tithe 10% of income to the church? Some churches really focus on this to meet the needs of their buildings and staff. However, the church was never meant to replace the Old Testament Temple. WE are the temple of the living God, in our hearts. It makes my heart ache when I think of all the money that goes into church buildings that sit idle most of the time, while so many believers in this world struggle to meet basic needs. Paul and the other disciples worked to earn their own living while they preached the gospel. Believers got together in homes and for meals to study the teachings and to worship God. Unfortunately, it’s virtually impossible to find Acts 2-like groups of believers in our day. But as with the widow who gave her two pennies to a corrupt Temple system that conspired to kill their Messiah, God sees our hearts. So allow Him to lead yours in your giving.
Tithing in the Age of Grace:
Tithing is an Old Testament concept. The tithe was a requirement of the Law in which the Israelites were to give 10 percent of the crops they grew and the livestock they raised to the tabernacle/temple (Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:26; Deuteronomy 14:24; 2 Chronicles 31:5). In fact, the Old Testament Law required multiple tithes—one for the Levites, one for the use of the temple and the feasts, and one for the poor of the land—which would have pushed the total to around 23.3 percent. Some understand the Old Testament tithe as a method of taxation to provide for the needs of the priests and Levites in the sacrificial system.
After the death of Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law, the New Testament nowhere commands, or even recommends, that Christians submit to a legalistic tithe system. The New Testament nowhere designates a percentage of income a person should set aside, but only says gifts should be “in keeping with income” (1 Corinthians 16:2). Some in the Christian church have taken the 10 percent figure from the Old Testament tithe and applied it as a “recommended minimum” for Christians in their giving.
The New Testament talks about the importance and benefits of giving. We are to give as we are able. Sometimes that means giving more than 10 percent; sometimes that may mean giving less. It all depends on the ability of the Christian and the needs of the body of Christ. Every Christian should diligently pray and seek God’s wisdom in the matter of participating in tithing and/or how much to give (James 1:5). Above all, all tithes and offerings should be given with pure motives and an attitude of worship to God and service to the body of Christ. “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).