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God, money and you: What is the proper relationship of these three? Have you ever thought about it? Has God promised you lots of money if you please Him? On the other hand, will you please God if you give Him all your money? Is it even possible to please God if you have lots of money? If you are wealthy, is money your god?

As with all of the great questions, opinions vary. But what does God say?

In short, does the Bible say anything about your relationship to God in the context of money matters?

Indeed it does. However, we must examine all the scriptures that relate to money, wealth and possessions before we can come to a balanced and informed understanding of God's will. To focus on only one or two scriptures can lead to an unbalanced and erroneous conclusion.

Seek a right perspective

For example, if you limit your scriptural search for insight to verses such as Luke 6:20 Luke 6:20And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be you poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.
American King James Version×
(“Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of heaven”) and Mark 10:25 Mark 10:25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
American King James Version×
(“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”), you can easily conclude that God wants you to have virtually no money at all, nor the things you can buy with it. You may think you should avoid money like the plague or that it is inherently bad for you.

Some read these verses and conclude that money and physical wealth are curses, a spiritual drag on one's life. They further conclude that God is displeased with any but the poor. Some even take pride in being one of “God's poor.”

On the other hand, if your scriptural focus is limited to certain other passages, you might come to an altogether different conclusion. You might conclude that God promises to bless all those serve Him with an abundance of money and material wealth. For example:

  • Proverbs 10:22 Proverbs 10:22The blessing of the LORD, it makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.
    American King James Version×
    : “The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it.”
  • 3 John 2: “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.”
  • Malachi 3:10 Malachi 3:10Bring you all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house, and prove me now herewith, said the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
    American King James Version×
    : “… 'Try Me now in this,' says the LORD of hosts, 'if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.'”

Some people use scriptures such as these to support what some have called a “health and wealth” gospel. In this view God promises physical and financial abundance to any who please Him.

Yet we can gain a balanced understanding only by considering the entirety of God's instructions in the Bible.

Properly framing the issue

The issue of the proper relationship between God on the one hand and you and money on the other is best framed by the scriptures already quoted and others including the following:

Psalms 24:1 Psalms 24:1The earth is the LORD’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
American King James Version×
: “The earth is the LORD's, and all its fullness …” God is the creator and owner of everything. All our wealth ultimately comes from the ground (the earth), and the earth belongs to God.

Mankind in general, and you as an individual, can enjoy the things that sustain and give enjoyment to physical life only by using some of what is ultimately God's possession.

It's important to keep this in mind. As the apostle James wrote: “Every good gift and every perfect gift [including material possessions and the money that makes possible their acquisition] is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17 James 1:17Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no ficklenss, neither shadow of turning.
American King James Version×
).

God spoke to the ancient Israelites words that are still relevant and instructive. He warned them about developing a wrongheaded, self-reliant, disobedient attitude about wealth and its acquisition:

“For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills; … a land in which you will … lack nothing … Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, lest … when your heart is lifted up … then you say in your heart, 'My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.' … For it is He who gives you power to get wealth …” (Deuteronomy 8:7-18 Deuteronomy 8:7-18 7 For the LORD your God brings you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; 8 A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; 9 A land wherein you shall eat bread without scarceness, you shall not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you may dig brass. 10 When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which he has given you. 11 Beware that you forget not the LORD your God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command you this day: 12 Lest when you have eaten and are full, and have built goodly houses, and dwelled therein; 13 And when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; 14 Then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; 15 Who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought you forth water out of the rock of flint; 16 Who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers knew not, that he might humble you, and that he might prove you, to do you good at your latter end; 17 And you say in your heart, My power and the might of my hand has gotten me this wealth. 18 But you shall remember the LORD your God: for it is he that gives you power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
American King James Version×
, emphasis added throughout).

Not only do the earth and its wealth belong to God, but we should ponder that even the “power to get wealth,” mentioned in the above passage, is a gift from Him.

That includes our abilities and aptitudes, minds and creativity and the health and strength it takes to work and make a living.

All of these are a gift from our Creator.

If a person recognizes and believes this, His approach toward money and wealth will be quite different from his attitude if he is not conscious of or thankful for God's blessings.

Jesus warned all who would be His disciples to “take heed and beware of covetousness” (Luke 12:15 Luke 12:15And he said to them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses.
American King James Version×
). Why? Because “one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (same verse). God knows that we as physical beings need physical things to sustain us. He provides for our real needs. We are not to worry about or be obsessed by the pursuit of more things, even life's necessities. Jesus'words should settle our minds:

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on … For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” (Matthew 6:25-32 Matthew 6:25-32 25 Therefore I say to you, Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor yet for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit to his stature? 28 And why take you thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say to you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Why, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things.
American King James Version×
).

To yield to covetousness is to put our desire for physical things on a plane that should be reserved for God alone. Money and things can become idols in the human heart. Colossians 3:5 Colossians 3:5 Mortify therefore your members which are on the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
American King James Version×
tells us to “put to death” such selfish desires as “fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desires, and covetousness, which is idolatry .”

Put God first

God , not the pursuit of money and wealth, should be first in the lives of those who seek to please Him. It comes down to a matter of whether we humbly and faithfully acknowledge God as sovereign in our lives.

Is His will more important than anything else, including money? Is honoring Him our chief desire?

Our lives consist of time. In most cases (except for inheritances or gifts), the wealth we acquire represents the wisdom we have used in spending our time in productive effort. So our income is usually a monetary reflection of the wise use of our time.

If a person's life is dedicated to God's service, so will be a portion of his wealth or income. God's Word tells us to “honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase” (Proverbs 3:9 Proverbs 3:9Honor the LORD with your substance, and with the first fruits of all your increase:
American King James Version×
). If God is a priority in your life, you will desire to honor Him with your life and your time—as represented by your income, your money.

God reveals in His Word that one way to do this is to tithe to Him. Tithing is giving the first 10 percent of one's income (“increase,” Deuteronomy 14:22 Deuteronomy 14:22You shall truly tithe all the increase of your seed, that the field brings forth year by year.
American King James Version×
) to God. To tithe is to give God what is His , not ours. However, even though it is really all His (Psalms 50:12 Psalms 50:12If I were hungry, I would not tell you: for the world is mine, and the fullness thereof.
American King James Version×
; 89:11), He lays claim to just the first 10 percent of our increase (Leviticus 27:30 Leviticus 27:30And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’s: it is holy to the LORD.
American King James Version×
).

Obviously we have no way of giving cash or a check directly to God in person. Our Creator has directed, through the ages, that the tithe that is His be given to those on earth whom He designates to receive it, those actively doing His work.

Abraham, the “father” of the faithful (Romans 4:16 Romans 4:16Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,
American King James Version×
), gave tithes to Melchizedek, God's representative (Genesis 14:16-20 Genesis 14:16-20 16 And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people. 17 And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale. 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. 19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: 20 And blessed be the most high God, which has delivered your enemies into your hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
American King James Version×
). Indeed, He was the preincarnate Jesus Christ (request our free booklet Who Is God? to learn more). Later, under the terms of the covenant between God and the nation of Israel, God assigned the tithe to be given to the tribe of Levi for the work of the tabernacle and later the temple (Numbers 18:21 Numbers 18:21And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation.
American King James Version×
).

However, since Jesus Christ's resurrection to be the High Priest of the New Covenant (Hebrews 6:20 Hebrews 6:20Where the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
American King James Version×
), the tithe no longer goes to the Levites but to His Church and the faithful ministers who serve under Him in proclaiming His true gospel and caring for His flock (Hebrews 7:12 Hebrews 7:12For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.
American King James Version×
). (You can learn more about the Body of Christ in our free booklet The Church Jesus Built .)

Does God need our money?

Because God doesn't need our money, it may seem ironic that God would tell those who want to serve Him to give a tithe for His work. As God, He could devise some other way to finance His work on earth.

Indeed, He could simply miraculously create money and give it to those He designates to oversee His work (compare, for example, the remarkable account in Matthew 17:24-27 Matthew 17:24-27 24 And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Does not your master pay tribute? 25 He said, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What think you, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? 26 Peter said to him, Of strangers. Jesus said to him, Then are the children free. 27 Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go you to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first comes up; and when you have opened his mouth, you shall find a piece of money: that take, and give to them for me and you.
American King James Version×
).

But those who serve God are the ones in need, and one of their needs is to learn to properly honor Him. One way we do that is with a portion of our increase. It keeps us mindful of the fact that God is the source of all our increase when we give to Him the first 10 percent for the purpose of spreading His message to others.

One of the greatest examples of a man who understood that honoring God, by giving back to Him physical wealth, is not a burden but a privilege was David. At a time when this king had led the nation in generously giving offerings for the furtherance of God's work, he prayed some instructive words. Rather than reflecting smug selfcongratulations at his (and the nation's) large offering, David's words capture the essence of spiritually mature giving to God:

“Now therefore, our God, we thank You and praise Your glorious name. But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly as this? For all things come from You, and of Your own we have given to You” (1 Chronicles 29:13 1 Chronicles 29:13Now therefore, our God, we thank you, and praise your glorious name.
American King James Version×
- 14). Truly this is the sort of humble and cheerful giving that God honors and loves (2 Corinthians 9:7 2 Corinthians 9:7Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver.
American King James Version×
).

Another need is that we learn spiritual maturity and develop God's giving nature (Acts 20:35 Acts 20:35I have showed you all things, how that so laboring you ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
American King James Version×
; 2 Corinthians 9:7 2 Corinthians 9:7Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver.
American King James Version×
). God's nature helps us not to be covetous, selfish, grasping in physical things. Indeed, it helps us to be ever mindful of something bigger than ourselves.

In the book of Malachi, God puts into stark language the spiritual issues related to tithing: “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now in this,' says the LORD of hosts” (Malachi 3:8-10 Malachi 3:8-10 8 Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed me. But you say, Wherein have we robbed you? In tithes and offerings. 9 You are cursed with a curse: for you have robbed me, even this whole nation. 10 Bring you all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house, and prove me now herewith, said the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
American King James Version×
).

The balanced approach

God's Word reveals a balanced view of the relationship between God,money and you. At certain times and places, faithful servants of God have been wealthy.

Abraham, the father of the faithful, was a prosperous man. So were Job, David and Joseph. At other times, equally faithful servants of God have suffered poverty.

For example, the faithful church of God at Smyrna suffered not only poverty but great trials and tribulation (Revelation 2:8-11 Revelation 2:8-11 8 And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things said the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; 9 I know your works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but you are rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. 10 Fear none of those things which you shall suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that you may be tried; and you shall have tribulation ten days: be you faithful to death, and I will give you a crown of life. 11 He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit said to the churches; He that overcomes shall not be hurt of the second death.
American King James Version×
).

Paul the apostle experienced both abundance and need at different times. “… For I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased [live humbly], and I know how to abound [live in prosperity]. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need” (Philippians 4:11-12 Philippians 4:11-12 11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
American King James Version×
).

Notice how Paul could maintain such contentment whether he was rich or poor: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (verse 13).This was the same Paul whom God inspired to write, for our edification: “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire [in a spirit of covetousness] to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money [not its right use] 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” (1 Timothy 6:7-10 1 Timothy 6:7-10 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
American King James Version×
).

The balanced approach is to recognize that money and wealth are temporary and may be used for good or evil. God's truth and plan for us, however, are eternal. We should honor God with the biblical proportion of whatever money we have and not set our hearts on—that is, covet—wealth (see King David's advice in Psalms 62:10 Psalms 62:10Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set not your heart on them.
American King James Version×
), knowing that God in His wisdom will care for our needs.

Again, Jesus'words should be our guide: “… Do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you” (Luke 12:29-31 Luke 12:29-31 29 And seek not you what you shall eat, or what you shall drink, neither be you of doubtful mind. 30 For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knows that you have need of these things. 31 But rather seek you the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added to you.
American King James Version×
). GN

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    Comments

  • Eddie A

    Matthew 5:17-18 The Fulfillment of the Law
    17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
    Leviticus 19:33-34
    33 “‘When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. 34 The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.
    Deuteronomy 15:8-10
    8 Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs. 9 Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: “The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near,” so that you do not show ill will toward your needy brother and give him nothing. He may then appeal to the Lord against you, and you will be found guilty of sin. 10 Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.
    Leviticus 25:8-25 The Year of Jubilee
    8 “‘Count off seven sabbaths of years—seven times seven years—so that the seven sabbaths of years amount to a period of forty-nine years. 9 Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. 10 Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each one of you is to return to his family property and each to his own clan. 11 The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines. 12 For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you; eat only what is taken directly from the fields.
    13 “‘In this Year of Jubilee everyone is to return to his own property.
    14 “‘If you sell land to one of your countrymen or buy any from him, do not take advantage of each other. 15 You are to buy from your countryman on the basis of the number of years since the Jubilee. And he is to sell to you on the basis of the number of years left for harvesting crops. 16 When the years are many, you are to increase the price, and when the years are few, you are to decrease the price, because what he is really selling you is the n

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