Money & the Church
If you’ve been part of a church community or have spent any amount of time in the Bible belt, you have probably figured out that the church has a very complex relationship with money. Some churches can’t seem to get enough money and want their congregation to be blessed with more money, while other churches act like money comes straight from the pit of hell and should be avoided at all costs.
What if I told you that I have come to the conclusion that money actually falls somewhere in between?
Money as a Blessing
The Lord’s blessing enriches, and he adds no painful effort to it. (Proverbs 10:22)
Come to terms with God and be at peace; in this way good will come to you. (Job 22:21)
He did not even spare his own Son but gave him up for us all. How will he not also with him grant us everything? (Romans 8:32)
I won’t deny it, being financially blessed by God sounds really good. That’s why this is preached from the pulpits across America nearly every Sunday, “God wants us to prosper financially, to have plenty of money, to fulfill the destiny He has laid out for us.” (Joel Osteen)
The problem with this message (affectionately referred to as the Health & Wealth gospel) is that it is so easily refuted by scripture that if people would just open their Bibles, they would know that scripture does not guarantee wealth, nor does it tell us to seek wealth.
If the end goal of being a Christian was to be wealthy, Jesus would have come as a royal king in a chariot. However, Jesus instead chose to come to earth as a baby born in a stable — not even in a home. He chose to ride into Jerusalem on a borrowed colt, instead of a chariot.
When our end goal as Christians is to not suffer at all in this life, then we’re actually worshipping health and wealth and not the risen King.
Money as a Sin
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:10)
No one can serve two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Matthew 6:24)
Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Make money-bags for yourselves that won’t grow old, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. (Luke 12:33)
The Bible is very clear that a love of money can lead us to sin. Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:24 that if we love money we can’t love God.
The reasoning behind this makes total sense: money provides comfort and when we are comfortable, we don’t feel a deep need for Jesus anymore.
Like the health and wealth gospel, money becomes our god and we can’t serve two masters.
For this reason, there are many Christians today who manage their money poorly because they are afraid to even think about it or touch it. They give money away and rack up debt, take low-paying jobs, and spend their days cursing the thought of money.
The reality is that this way of looking at money is just as un-Biblical as the health and wealth gospel. So, what does the Bible really say about money? Thankfully, God didn’t leave us to wonder, He lays it out plainly in scripture.
Money as a Tool
The Bible is filled with conversations about money. Jesus calls us to be generous, good stewards of our financial situation. He doesn’t guarantee that we will be wealthy financially, but He does encourage us to be disciplined with our money.
One of the most ground-breaking passages on money in the entire Bible is Proverbs 31.
Who can find a wife of noble character? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will not lack anything good. She rewards him with good, not evil, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with willing hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from far away. She rises while it is still night and provides food for her household and portions for her female servants. She evaluates a field and buys it; she plants a vineyard with her earnings. She draws on her strength and reveals that her arms are strong. She sees that her profits are good, and her lamp never goes out at night. She extends her hands to the spinning staff, and her hands hold the spindle. Her hands reach out to the poor, and she extends her hands to the needy. She is not afraid for her household when it snows, for all in her household are doubly clothed. She makes her own bed coverings; her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known at the city gates, where he sits among the elders of the land. She makes and sells linen garments; she delivers belts to the merchants. Strength and honor are her clothing, and she can laugh at the time to come. Her mouth speaks wisdom, and loving instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the activities of her household and is never idle. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also praises her: “Many women have done noble deeds, but you surpass them all!” Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised. Give her the reward of her labor, and let her works praise her at the city gates.
(Side note, whoever says that the Bible has a low view of women has clearly never actually read the Bible.)
Can we talk about this woman is serious #goals? Listen carefully because this is important and I don’t want you to miss this.
This woman in Proverbs 31 is not afraid of rolling up her sleeves and doing the hard work in order to provide for her family. She is the first one to wake up and the last one to go to bed in her household. She buys a vineyard and she makes and sells clothing. She is able to laugh at the time to come because she knows that she has saved up enough money that she will be okay if she falls upon hard times.
Not only is she making and saving money, but she is also very generous and gives to the poor. She is deeply active in her community. Her family praises her because they can see that she is using money as a tool — not as an idol — and she is able to bring honor to her family and glory to God’s name in her work.
Yes, she is working hard for her wages and the passage says that she should be rewarded for that in a financial way. However, she is not working for the sake of making money, she is working to bring glory and honor to God by being a loving wife and mother who is able to provide for her household. She is not running away from making money because she’s afraid she might fall into sin, she is trusting in God every step of the way.
I want to be this woman when it comes to my finances and the work that I do over the course of my life. I want to do work that benefits those around me, I want to give generously to the poor, and I want my family to be doubly clothed. Most importantly though, I want to bring glory to God in my approach to money. I want to see money as a tool to help others and honor God in that.
Money can have a seat at the table of our lives without becoming the focus of all of our attention. We as a church need to wrestle with what money means to us. The Bible is very clear that we should neither worship money nor avoid it.
I pray that God will work in your heart and mine to help us to see money as a tool to be used to bring Him honor and glory and may we laugh at the days to come.
You are loved!
P.S. If you want to dig deeper into your relationship with money, check out my free finances check-in worksheet!