Public Square & Theology 101

Does God Want You to Be Rich…or Poor?

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“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

– Jeremiah 29:11

One of the most perplexing issues facing Christians in the marketplace today is whether God wants us to be rich or poor. It is easy enough to find plenty of people using verses from Scripture, often out of context, to support either extreme.

Last week I heard two sermons touching on this issue:

  • One preacher expounded the virtues of the “health and wealth gospel.” He said the reason we don’t have riches and wealth is because we haven’t asked God for them.
  • The other preacher told the story of how he sold his big house, gave away everything, and moved his family into a small, two-bedroom apartment, implying that a life of poverty was more virtuous.

Ken Eldred, in his book, God is at Work, suggests that God’s view of prosperity is much more complex, and many have drifted while trying to understand it. He makes the excellent point that prosperity is neither moral nor immoral. It is amoral, or value-neutral.

Eldred writes:

There are two misguided attitudes often encountered concerning the relationship between wealth and righteous living. Some view wealth as the evil enemy of a righteous life. Others view wealth as the essential evidence of a righteous life.

Many Christians and their pastors, horrified by the perceived excesses of the “health and wealth gospel,” retreat to a romantic view of poverty which often operates under the sacred-secular divide. Again Eldred’s comments are right on point:

Wealth is seen as the evidence of a misplaced focus on secular pursuits. No roads to prosperity are acceptable, since all means of acquiring wealth involve undue emphasis on secular activities. Many who follow this line of thinking retreat from the perceived trappings of the ‘secular’ marketplace to pursue ‘sacred’ activities and pursuits.

Eldred suggests a way out of the dilemma, with which we would agree. Health and wealth are not proof of obedience to God or of sufficient faith in him. Neither are sickness and poverty proof of disobedience or lack of faith. Both extreme viewpoints miss the mark.

Eldred suggests Christians can adopt a new paradigm that views business and all work as having inherent spiritual value in and of itself. The idea of all work seen as mission radically changes the way we view normal business activity, and teaches that business can have spiritual and economic goals. Eldred writes,

Business can become a spiritual activity when it advances God’s objectives by serving others and creating products and resources.

Wealth and capital creation can be tools with which committed Christians serve God as well as their neighbor.

Eldred suggests six key truths to be discerned by careful, prayerful scrutiny of Scripture:

  1. Wealth is to be in all areas – physical, mental, material, and spiritual.
  2. Wealth is from God – he is the source of all prosperity and blessing (Matthew 7:11; Deuteronomy 8:8).
  3. Wealth is to be managed – we are the stewards of the material possessions entrusted to us (1 Corinthians 10:26; Matthew 25:14-30).
  4. Wealth is to be used for God’s purposes (1 Timothy 6:17-18; 2 Corinthians 9:11).
  5. Wealth is to be enjoyed (1 Timothy 6:17).
  6. Wealth is not our source of trust – God is (Luke 12:34).

Eldred concludes his book with this important idea: “The concepts of transformation, work, business, profit, and wealth are key biblical foundations of kingdom business. If one is going to effectively do business as a mission to spread the gospel, one must first understand that God cares about people’s spiritual, social, and economic transformation, that work in the business world is both necessary and a sign of useful service, and that poverty is a social disease to be addressed.”

Does it matter whether we are rich or poor? Leave your comments here.

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  • anarchobuddy

    I find this question interesting in consideration of the fact that for a majority of man’s existence, he has been quite poor, especially in comparison to current Western standards. Furthermore, even many of those considered to be poor Westerners are far wealthier than many in the third world and have more conveniences available to them than the richest of ages past. Thus, to me, being wealthy seems to be a relative term, and there appears to be little direct correlation between godliness and material prosperity.

    • Reggie Randolph

      The purpose of being blessed is to share with others in need. We have to be in position to assist emotionally, spiritually, physically, financially, and mentally. How can I have only enough for me and assist others. We need the abundance of God in every area so that we are whole in him and by him. So yes we need wealth to bless in every country. Who better to have it than God’s people that look to expand kingdom. The failure most Christians lack is that we are blessed through him. We try to manipulate God to move him or to obtain something. Any God that can predestined has clearly already given all things that pertain to life and godliness. I encourage all to go forth in whatever your hand touches as God being with you will bless all that you do.

      • Jerrylin Albright Stewart

        This is awesome thank you 😊😇

      • Edison Nicholson

        This is indeed my thoughts on this topic. God wants us to be fruitful so that we can be a blessing to others. Your ministry is only as powerful as your testimony; a public recounting of a religious conversion or experience. Meaning, I came from and now look what God has done.

  • illuminati elder

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  • Denny Austin

    Having faith in God and trusting him whole heartedly and knowing without one crumb of doubt he will take care of his children. I’ve lived a life full of riches and sin and never worrying about money. The day came that i turned my life over to god, believing in him but not trusting him 100% riding the fence i think they call it. Had a beautiful baby girl, game changer. How could i not trust God now, here is this miracle that is apart of me and created by my father God. For the last 2 years, I have lived my life for God the best way possible, not the poster child for Christian faith. I have trusted God and lived a life of just getting by week to week, pay check to pay check. But during this time I had gained all the wealth in the world and didnt even realize it. I had grown spiritually and as a father and as a husband, but mostly i have learned how to trust in God. So I think God wants us to be wealthy and prosper. First you got to become wealthy in life, wealthy in your mental state, wealthly spiritually before you can be wealthy in terms of finance. God makes us go through hard times to test our faith, to see how we would handle it. We can’t receive blessings for big things If We can’t handle the little things. God has a plan and I dont doubt it at all. He will bless me beyond anything I ever imagined. This is my season. Amen

    Denny austin

    • Jerrylin Albright Stewart

      Amen 😇😇😇 so inspiring 😊 thank you

  • met mina

    To me, i find it very important to be wealthy as we live. Poverty is the root of all evil. What matters most is what we do with the world. God in Genesis said “ take dominion over everything.. ” how can that be possible as we remain poor.

    • Scott Pagels

      I’m not sure I would say poverty is the root of all evil. Sin is the root of all evil and evil comes from everyone, no matter the income level. Money is not the root of all evil, it is the sin of greed that makes it such. To give up ones riches to live a life of poverty is about showing your faith in God that he will provide even in the worst of times. The problem of being boastful, prideful in wealth is essentially a vail to God, it prevents us from having the relationship he longs for, wants from us. Those things are sin ultimately. Where I see it, being wealthy is not a sin. In fact, one could say that as someone who is wealthy can offer more to those who are poor because they have the means. I am no way a wealth gospel person, I do not like what I see from those that preach it. I am a believer that sin is what keeps us from having the relationship that God wants from us and that comes from those who are rich and those that are poor.

  • kdyer

    Proverbs 30:7-9

  • Natália Cruz Oficial

    God wants us to be fruitful so that we can be a blessing to others.

  • Bank Roye

    It’s better to be somewhere in the middle of poverty and riches. We don’t want to get too rich and become too busy or self-sufficient as to drift away from depending on God always. We don’t also want our hearts to be crowded with worries of bills piling up that we no longer enjoy and find expressions in prayers and worship than the constant cries for mercy.

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