Money and Spirituality
By Dr. Charles Stanley
Is it more godly to be poor than to be rich? What is the proper place for money in a Christian's life? Let's take a look at what the Bible says.
A. Does poverty make you more spiritual?
Many people believe that money and spirituality are incompatible. This belief stems in part from teachings related to a couple of verses in the Bible: Matthew 5:3 and John 12:8.
- In the first passage, Jesus speaks of the "poor in spirit," meaning humble individuals who openly acknowledge their need of God's forgiveness. How is this different from being financially poor?
- What does "theirs is the kingdom of heaven" mean? Why is this reserved for the "poor in spirit"?
- Read John 12:3-8. Why did Mary anoint the Lord's feet with such expensive perfume?
- Why did Jesus answer Judas in the way He did, and what was the main point of His response?
B. What is the place of money in your life?
When it comes to money and material gain, people often hold one or more of the following four positions:
For some people, wealth becomes central to their lives. They worship money, which means they devote most of their time, energy, and attention to acquiring and using it. Individuals stuck in this mindset equate riches with power and prestige.
- How much time do you spend thinking about your finances each day? In comparison, how much time do you spend reading the Bible or meditating on its truths?
- Which are you more likely to discuss: a hot stock tip, the great sale you found, and new business opportunities—or last Sunday's sermon, topics from God's Word, and what the Lord is doing in your life?
An idol can be anything you place above God in your heart and mind—including anything you trust or love more than Him. A believer should not conduct business, make purchases and investments, or enter into money-making opportunities without seeking God's wisdom.
- Read 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Why does Paul list covetousness along with these other sins? What does this suggest about God's view of materialism?
- Why does Paul warn us not to be deceived concerning these things? In what ways might a person deceive himself about money becoming an idol?
Envious people sometimes have a great deal but think they deserve more. Having less than others strikes them as unfair.
Envy often springs from an erroneous belief that everyone who is well off has prospered through illegal or ungodly means. But many people have great wealth because they worked hard, invested wisely, or inherited riches (which means someone before them worked hard and invested well).
Individuals with excess money have a responsibility to help people who cannot help themselves and those in a season of financial hardship. But we are not called to provide for the poor who are able-bodied and capable but refuse to work (2 Thess. 3:10).
- Read Exodus 20:17. What does it mean to covet?
- What are some specific ways you are tempted by this sin?
- In what ways do people try to disguise a covetous attitude? How can a person justify this sin by calling it something different?
Greed is an insatiable desire for more. People of all economic levels are equally prone to this sin, because it is a state of the heart. Greedy people do not trust God to take care of them or send blessings their way. They believe that if the Father truly loved them, He would satisfy their every desire.
The greedy person doesn't allow the Lord to fill the void he feels inside. Do not conclude too quickly that you are free from excessive desire in your life. We each succumb to greed to the extent that we lack trust in God's complete provision for our needs—spiritual, mental, emotional, physical, or material.
- Read Proverbs 1:18-19. The picture in these verses is of a person hunting birds. In what ways is a greedy person similar to a man who sets a snare for a bird?
- How does greed take away a person's life? Give examples.
The final and wisest position we can take is to recognize that money is neutral. In other words, it is neither good nor bad. A $20 bill can be used to buy liquor or a Bible for a new believer. How we handle our finances is what's important. God is far more concerned about our attitudes and desires regarding wealth than He is about our net worth.
- Read Galatians 6:7-8. What does it meant to sow to the flesh?
- Give specific examples of how people use money in this way.
- What does it mean to sow to the Spirit?
- How can you sow to the Spirit financially?
- Of the four attitudes people take toward money, to which one(s) do you relate the most? Why?
- What do you think the Lord would have you do to improve your approach to money management?
Conclusion: From God's point of view, the important thing is not how much wealth we have, but whether we are wise stewards of what He provides. Learn to be a good manager of your finances, and you will receive spiritual blessings whether you are rich or poor.
Prayer: Father, please forgive me for the wrong attitudes I've held about money. Help me to view riches from a biblical perspective, and teach me to use my finances in a way that will honor You. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Many Christians ignore the biblical principle of tithing. They rely on secular advice that cautions against generous giving. However, no financial scheme can compare to God’s master financial plan.(Watch God's Master Financial Plan).