Money is a controversial topic in many churches. Some churches teach that being rich is a sin, while others preach that it’s God’s will for them to be rich. Obviously there’s a disconnect here, so which is true? And how do we know?
It’s important to understand what the Bible teaches about money and to recognize the context of the scriptures as well. Our relationship with money is important to God, so let’s take a closer look at some scriptures and see what we can learn.
Don’t Trust in Money
Proverbs 11:28 says, “He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like foliage.” The Bible warns us against trusting in money because it’s continually fluctuating. Instead, we need to focus on living rightly before God.
Additionally, Psalm 20:7 declares, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” Rather than trusting in money or possessions, we must trust only in God; only God is unchanging.
Paul tells us, “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). Having money isn’t wrong or bad, as long as our trust is in God, not money.
Don’t Love Money
According to 1 Timothy 6:9-10, wanting money can cause temptation and troubles, and if we love money, we can fall prey to greed and even wander from our faith in God:
“But those who desire 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 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.”
The point here is don’t love money—love God. And don’t be consumed with a desire for money. Money in itself is not evil—it’s our attitude toward it that can lead to trouble.
Don’t Serve Money
Jesus taught in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (mammon is another word for money).
In other words, you cannot worship both God and money; you must choose. God is all-powerful, but some people make money powerful in their lives; it drives them to do unwise or unethical things and can even ruin their lives or relationships.
The key is this: money should serve us—we shouldn’t serve money. Money shouldn’t control us—we should control our money. We should tell our money that it will advance the Kingdom of God, it will help others, and it will honor God by how it’s spent.
Jesus’s Teachings About Money
Jesus taught about money more than most people realize. He understood that riches can negatively influence and deceive people, so He made sure to teach about its dangers. Jesus was not against money, but He emphasized the importance of using it properly, not loving it, not being greedy, and investing it appropriately.
In Jesus’s day, people often travelled long distances to the Temple to make the required sacrifices to fulfill the Law of Moses. Rather than bringing animals to be sacrificed on the long journey with them, for convenience, people would purchase animals at the Temple to sacrifice. John 2:13-17 describes how Jesus went into the Temple and turned over the tables with money on them. He formed a whip and drove the people out who were buying and selling.
On the surface, we may think that this is an example of Jesus disapproving of the sale of animals in the Temple, but the truth is that Jesus knew about corruption and injustice behind the scenes (like selling the same animal to many people to sacrifice), and He saw the greed in the hearts of the salesmen. So Jesus wasn’t against money or selling animals but against the corruption and greed.
Riches and deception
Jesus explained in a parable how riches can hinder our growth as Christians: “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22). As Christians we are called bear fruit and to grow in our faith and relationship with God, but if our focus is on riches or other worldly concerns, we can be deceived and not understand the Word of God correctly.
Work, taxes and God
The religious leaders in Jesus’s day were constantly trying to catch Him in a wrong teaching. One of their favorite subjects to test Jesus on was money. Perhaps this was because the Pharisees themselves were lovers of money (Luke 16:14).
Matthew 22:21-27 describes how Jesus responded to criticism from the Pharisees about paying taxes to Rome. Jesus said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Then He instructed His disciple to go fishing and pull a coin out of the fish’s mouth to pay the taxes for them both.
Clearly, Jesus advocated working to earn a living and paying the appropriate taxes to the government, as well as giving to God what was due Him.
Jesus loved to use parables to teach about the Kingdom of God (Matthew 25:14-30). One story goes like this: a master gave different amounts of money (talents) to each of his workers, and then he went on a long journey. Two of the servants put the money to work and invested it to earn more. But one servant was afraid of punishment from the master and hid his money instead.
The master returned and was delighted to see that the workers had increased their earnings: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.”
But the fearful worker who didn’t invest the money was told: “You wicked and lazy servant … you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.”
What can we learn from this story? God wants His children to invest wisely, not to shrink back in fear. Whether it’s money, influence, talents, or other resources, God expects us to make wise decisions and to be responsible with what He gives us.
~ by Jennell Houts