I hear it all the time:
“I just want to be rich so I can help others.”
“I need a mansion so I can have biiig Bible study there.”
“If I look successful, others will want to follow Jesus too.”
At face value, these may seem like legitimate arguments. I mean, Kevin, how can you fault someone for wanting to use their money for good? Easy. Because these are rationalizations straight from the evil one. 1 Timothy 6:9 tells us in plain terms to be wary of wanting to be rich:
“Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.”
There are people who genuinely want to be rich to help others, but statistics show us that by the time they get “rich”, they will change their tune. The top 20% of earners give about 1.3% of their income to charity. But the lowest 20% of earners give almost three times more. In fact, as income goes up, giving goes down without fail.
When we focus on wanting to be rich, we take our focus off God’s plan for our finances and end up missing the miracles He has planned for us.
I think, as Christians, we all know this, but it takes practice to move the information from our heads to our hearts. So, here are some healthy reminders I like to think about when I start to fall into this mode of thinking:
- You already have earthly riches. Compared to the rest of the world, even the poorest Americans are richer than most of the world’s inhabitants. If you have a car, that puts you in the elite top 8% of all the people on the planet. You have running water and a roof over your head, something that close to 3 billion people cannot say. If you make $11,344 a year (the federal poverty line for an individual), you are the top 13% richest people in the world. It’s just that we see people who have even more than we do and it makes us feel poor in comparison. Check out globalrichlist.com to find out where you rank.
- Everything you have belongs to God. Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” This is something to always keep in mind as you manage your finances. We are not owners, but managers of what God has entrusted to us.
- Show God you are a worthy manager with what you have now. “So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” – Luke 16:11 If we look at our financial relationship with God like an owner, then we are the CFOs. Whether the owner hands you a small business or a multinational corporation, you would want to please him by managing it well, right? That way, he may see fit to entrust you with more.
- Live with gratitude. There is always something to be thankful for, even in the worst of times. Live contentedly and with a spirit of constant gratitude and you will never feel the pangs of financial pain, no matter what your bank account says.
- Be Generous. “Just the very act of letting go of money, or some other treasure, does something within us. It destroys the demon ‘greed’.” – Richard Foster. We always have something to give, even if we only have a little. God instructs us to be open handed because He knows how it can open our hearts, fill us with joy, and destroy our greedy nature. The key is to focus our giving on a desire to build God’s Kingdom and send our wealth “forward” for eternal rewards. We can’t take our stuff here on earth with us when we die. Life here on earth is extremely short. Eternity is forever.
- Know your focus and align your desires. When our hearts are focused on Him and we filter everything through a desire to please Him, everything else falls into place. When we are focused on money or getting rich, our hearts will reflect that, becoming ugly and disfigured. God made us with desires that can only be truly satisfied through Him. Love God with everything you’ve got, including your money. Use money as a tool, not a desire. See Matthew 19:16-30.
- Pray. What an awesome tool we have as followers of Christ. We can ask for wisdom and be given it. Pray for wisdom in managing what you have. God promises to provide for us and He will do just that as we trust in Him and pray for His wisdom. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13
- Have pleasure. 1 Timothy 6:17 says, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us everything for our enjoyment.” We are not to feel guilty about what God has blessed us with. Rather, we are free to enjoy it as long as our desires are in line with His. Being a follower of Christ should be a radical adventure, not the bore fest we sometimes see it as. God wants us to have pleasure both as we enjoy the things He’s blessed us with and as we bless others with our abundance.
We live in a very unique time in history. We have unprecedented wealth, resources and freedoms which we can use to either further God’s kingdom or get crazy rich. Contrary to our human inclination, God tells us that the latter is more satisfying.
What do you think? Do you struggle with wanting to be rich?