What Does the Bible Say?
So, how do spiritually mature people view wealth? Here’s Dave’s answer, in an excerpt from The Legacy Journey.
Much of the toxic teaching about wealth is the result of spiritual immaturity. Some people are hit with the “money is evil” message so hard that they honestly feel guilty if they start to win. That’s a trap! If money were evil, then why would God’s Word contain so many examples of incredible, faithful men and women who have massive wealth and yet whose devotion to God is never questioned? Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job, David, Solomon, Joseph of Arimathea, and Lydia are just a few examples of biblical heroes who honored God with the wealth He gave them.
The fifth and sixth chapters of Ecclesiastes contain some of the hardest, most sobering teachings about wealth in all of Scripture. Those passages make it clear that wealth is a responsibility, and it’s easy for that responsibility to lead some people off a spiritual (and financial) cliff. Like I said, money is dangerous, and if you see yourself as the owner instead of the manager, wealth will lead you into trouble every time. However, if you keep your perspective straight—if you are always aware of the fact that you’re just a steward of what God owns—then you have every right to enjoy the blessings and benefits of that gift.
Now, because I told you to always keep the broader biblical context in mind, let’s look at Ecclesiastes for a minute. Tradition says that it was written by King Solomon in his old age. What do we know about Solomon? I can think of two things right off the bat. First, God blessed him with wisdom beyond what had ever been known before. Second, Solomon was probably the wealthiest person in history up to that point. So, God gave him wisdom, and God gave him wealth. Wisdom and wealth. That’s a pretty powerful combination. Of course, Solomon made mistakes. His wisdom and obedience to God were imperfect at times—after all, he was human. By the time he wrote Ecclesiastes, he had been through major ups and downs in his spiritual, personal, emotional, and financial life. He had seen it all, and at this point, he’s ready to talk about it. So what does he say?
He spends most of chapter 5 warning us about the dangers of wealth and greed, which some use to support the “wealth is evil” belief. But, at the end of a rant against the misuse of wealth, Solomon pulls back and makes this observation:
Here is what I have seen: It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it is his heritage. As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God. (Ecclesiastes 5:18–19)
These two verses blow my mind! What is the focus of this message? It isn’t me; it’s not saying, “Look what I’ve done! I’m so awesome!” It isn’t work; it’s not saying, “My job is my provider.” It isn’t wealth; it’s not saying, “Money is the goal, so go get you some.” It isn’t even the enjoyment of wealth or the different ways you can bless others with it. There is one and only one focus of these two verses: God.
This passage makes it perfectly clear. God is the One who gives us “all the days of [our] life.” God gives us work. He gives us the energy and power to do the work. He gives us the riches and wealth” that come from our work. And—don’t miss this—He gives us the “power to eat of it” and “rejoice in [our] labor.” It’s all from God! The days, the work, the power to work, the reward from work, and even the enjoyment of the reward—the whole thing is His from start to finish! This is His gift to us, and it’s not our option to enjoy it. Scripture says that it is our “heritage” to “enjoy the good of all [our] labor”!
God gives us these blessings to faithfully manage, and that means we should always be wise stewards. It means we should always be giving. It means we should always be taking care of our families. And yes, it means that we should actually enjoy the unbelievable blessings He has put in our hands! Spiritually mature people with a right view of God’s ownership can do all of that. We don’t have to be scared of the wealth or ashamed of the fact that wealth enables us to do some fun things. That’s what my friend Dan Scott meant when he said, “Adults are called to manage dangerous things well for the glory of God.” We’re adults, and we’re managing these things for God. According to Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, part of managing our God-given wealth is honoring God with our enjoyment of that blessing.
Dave Ramsey is America’s trusted voice on money and business. He’s authored four New York Times best-selling books: Financial Peace, More Than Enough, The Total Money Makeover, and EntreLeadership. His newest book, written by his daughter Rachel Cruze, is titled Smart Money Smart Kids.
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