Prosperity, Wealth, Riches, Money…
The most contemplative question among Christian believers is: Prosperity or Wealth or riches, is it a blessing or a curse?
The answer should be obvious, it’s not a curse. Wealth can be a blessing or curse based on our attitude towards in accumulating it. Making money as security is not the right motive. There are plenty of wrong motive in saving money. If you are accumulating wealth, out of fear of the future, it shows you are not really trusting God to provide (Prov 3:5-6; Luke 12:24; Psalm 34:10; John 14:1, 27; II Tim 1:7).
Prosperity and abundance are the divine natures of God (Deu 28:1-14). God created Adam and placed him in the garden of Eden (Gen 2:16-17). God had provided every blessing for his life. However, God reserved the tree of knowledge for Himself. It was a free will for the man to either respect His command or to violate it. Man disobeyed God’s command and brought curse upon the earth. Poverty or lack is the result of curse (Deu 28:15-17). A born again child of God, should no longer live under the curse of poverty. Over and over, through the scriptures, God has revealed to His people that it is His will to prosper His children and His blessings makes his children rich (Gen 39:3,23; Deu 8:6-18; Deu 29:9; Deu 30:8-10; Psalm 1:1-3; Psalm 35:27; Psalm 84:11; Prov 10:22; Ecc 5:19; 3John 2;).
God sent His beloved son Jesus Christ to redeem us from the curse of the Law so that the blessings of Abraham might come upon us (Gal 3:13-14). Jesus Christ preached good news to the poor and delivered those who were in captive and oppressed (Luke 4:18-19). It is very true that Jesus Christ spoke against covetousness and the desire for wealth for the purpose of hoarding it, but He never said that the believers should avoid material possessions and seek poverty. He taught to seek the Kingdom of God first and God will meet the needs in abundance in due time (Matt 6:31-34). Always remember, Jesus Christ became poor, so that through His poverty, you might become rich (II Corin 8:9) and the Lord your God has given you the power to make wealth and He delights in your prosperity.
Believers in Christ should keep themselves from being polluted by the world, share their resources and be a blessing to others (James 1:27). A poverty stricken believer cannot meet his own needs and extends his hand to support the preaching of gospel, needs of spiritual leaders and the church. God doesn’t take pleasure on seeing His children grovelling and worried about how to pay the bills, barely managing to get by, and feeding from hand to mouth or just to manage living their whole life. God is willing to give you good things and meet all of your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Matt 7:11; Phil 4:19). Remember, you are not serving a God of poverty but a God of abundance. The abundant life promised by God isn’t for just a few; it is for every believer in Christ. Prosperity, riches, abundance, and money are blessings, but come with responsibility of giving and the purpose of expanding the Kingdom of God. You should develop heart of gratitude. You are stewards in the kingdom of God to manage the resources given by God and be a blessing to others.
There are financial principles found in the Bible that educate you in conducting financial affairs. If you are obedient to God’s Word, practice those principles and honour His word, you will live in a land of abundance, lend to many nations, and no longer be under debts.
- God is my source and He Owns it all
Always remember that God is your source of everything you need. He owns it all. You are just a steward! Everything you have owned, represent His gifts entrusted to you. So, you don’t need to worry about the future. God has plans for you and they are for good and not for disaster (Jere 29:11). He has prepared good things for those who love him (I Corin 2:9).
(Deu 10:14; I Sam 2:8; I Chron 29:11-12; Psalm 24:1; Psalm 33: 18-19; Psalm 50:10,12; Prov 8:20,21; Haggai 2:8; I Corin 10:26; II Corin 9:8; Heb 2:10-18)
“Tithe” means a tenth or 10 percent. Tithing was first recorded in the book of Genesis. Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, the priest of God Most High and the King of Salem (Gen 14: 18-20). Jacob promised to give a tenth of his possessions to God (Gen 28:22). The law of tithing was explained in details in Mosaic covenant. It was a reminder to Israel that God provided the harvest and this first part was returned to him to show their thankfulness to God for His provision. God declares that the tithe is holy unto the Lord. The ultimate purpose of tithing was to teach God’s children to put God first in their life, acknowledge His blessings in their land and to learn to fear the Lord (Lev 27:30-33; Num 18:21-24; Deut 14: 22-29).
The New Testament is a fulfillment of the covenant made to Abraham. We are called the children of Abraham and have received the blessings of Abraham (Gal 3:7,13,14). It is very true that you are no longer under the old law, but under grace (Rom 6:41). Jesus said the greatest commandment in the law is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your strength. This is the first and great commandment and the second is: You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Matt 22:37-40; Mark 12:30-31; Luke 10:27-28). You are not called to nullify the law on the contrary, you establish the law by the love of Christ (Rom 3: 21-31). Love is the fulfilment of the law and doesn’t demand its own way (Rom 13:10; I Corin 13:4-8).
Jesus acknowledged that the Pharisees were very careful about tithing and neglected the more important aspects of the law: justice, mercy. He then said that they should in fact tithe, but shouldn’t neglect the more important things (Matt 23:23; Luke 11:42). Jesus also emphasized to give back to God the things that are God’s (Mark 12:17). What you do with your money shows where your heart is (Matt 6:21). Paying tithe is giving a portion of blessings that belonged to God almighty, who owns everything, out of your love towards Him. It shows that your heart isn’t tied to money and you love God more than your money. Holding back or not paying tithe of all sources of blessings signify robbing God. It is foolishness to meddle around with tithe (Mal 3:8). Honour the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce (Prov 3:9-10). Personally I do believe, by giving to God out of love and thanksgiving, will help you to escape the curse that is already in the world.
(Deu 26:12-13;Matt 23:23; Luke 11:42; Heb 7:1-2 & 5-9)
The principle of offering differs from tithing. Offerings are given out of your free will apart from tithing. Offering determines the measure by which you receive God’s blessing as you are giving out of faith that belongs to you (Luke 6:38). When you remember and give generously to the poor, you are lending to God. By giving freely, you grow riches as God will repay for your deeds and remembers you when Jesus comes back in His glory (Prov 11:24; Prov 19:17; Prov 28:27; Matt 25: 34-40). Every believer should be generous and willing to share according to their ability. God loves a cheerful giver so give expectantly and cheerfully (I Tim 6:18; II Corin 9:6-13). The motive of giving and doing charitable deed is very important. Lord Jesus warned not to do charitable deeds for the sake of being admired by men (Matt 6:1-4). Develop right attitude and motive in giving offerings and gifts so that you receive reward from your Father in heaven. (Deu 16:16-17; Acts 20:35; I Corin 16:1-2; II Corin 8:12-15)
- Seek Godly counsel and trust God
Seeking God’s counsel in handling financial affairs is the most important aspect in financial management. God is wonderful in counsel and excellent in guidance (Isa 9:6, Isa 28:29). Treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ Jesus (Colo 2:3; Psalm 139: 1-2). So, trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Go boldly to the throne of grace in time of need, ask God to give you wisdom to know the right course of action (Pro 3:5-6; Heb 4:15-16; James 1:5). God knows the way that you should take as He is watching all your paths (Job 23:10; Psalm 142:3; Prov 5:21)
Believers who figure out things on their own and violate the principles of God, often get into financial difficulty. A child of God should be prudent who heeds counsel and considers his way (Prov 12:15; Prov 13:6; Prov 14:8,12). God may speak to you in one way or in another: in a dream, in a vision of the night, through His word, in still voice, or through His children (Gen 8:15; I kings 19:11-13; Isa 38:4; John 10:27; II Tim 3:16-17; I Thess 2:13; Heb 1:1-2). Learn to be sensitive to recognise God’s voice. If you fear the Lord, meditate on Scriptures, make yourself available to God by spending quality time through prayer and learn to be still in His presence, you will be able to access His wisdom and hear His voice. If you have not developed the habit of hearing God’s voice, take help from two or three godly financial advisors who apply biblical principles in their financial affairs and have good testimonies (Prov 11:14; Prov 15:22; Prov 24:6; Psalm 119:24). After obtaining the counsel, it is your responsibility to pray to God to give you His wisdom to move forward. Always remember, God’s plans are for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope (Jer 29:11). (Psalm 32:8; Psalm 119:105; Prov 8:17-21; Prov 16:3; Prov 19:20; Jer 32:19; Jer 33:3)
- Keep Records, Budget and plan
Budget helps you to plan, organise and control your financial resources. It helps you to decide the amount of money that can be spent and how it will be spent apart from tithe and offering. Keep an eye on your values and priorities. Plan your expenditure based on your net income after deductions.
Needs are the basic necessities of your life; wants are the choices about the quality of goods and desires are the goods we dream about having but they are not essential to your survival and well-being. Identify your needs, wants and desire before every purchase. Be aware of your financial conditions before stepping into any financial transaction for riches are not forever (Prov 27:23, 24). Good planning leads to prosperity (Prov 21:5). Pray and seek God’s wisdom in managing your finances without wasting your possessions (Luke 16:1). Build your house through the wisdom and understanding of God (Prov 24:3). Submit your spending decisions to the Lord through prayer as only the counsel of Lord will stand (Prov 19:21).
- Saving and investment plan
God owns everything and he provides the needs of His children. Saving money exhibits good stewardship of the resources given by God. It helps us to keep something aside for a rainy day (Prov 6:6-11; Prov 30:24,25). Every believer must prayerfully find the right way of saving the resources given by God. Squandering your money doesn’t honour God. God expects you to be faithful with the small things given to you (Matt 25:23). A wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets (Prov 21:20). Spend less than you earn (Eccl 5:11). Develop a right attitude in saving money and don’t make money as your security (Eccl 5:10). Discipline of saving avoids debts. Save atleast 5% of your income (Gen 41:34, 36). Gather little by little and make it grow by trusting God as your provider (Prov 13:11).
Saving and investment plans should be based on God’s priorities. A prudent man foresees the evil and takes precautions (Prov 22:3; Prov 27:12). Divide your wealth into several portions and don’t risk it all in one place (Prov 31:16; Eccl 11:2). As your savings grow, make sure that your diversification grows in proportion to it. Diversification reduces the risk involved in investment. Consider your grandchildren and leaves an inheritance to them also (Prov 13:22).
God is your provider and don’t be anxious of saving or boast about tomorrow but do the right thing, you ought to do (James 4:13-17). Always seek guidance from God and implement a biblically based saving or investment strategy that reflects God’s specific will for your life. Better is a little with righteousness than great income with injustice (Prov 16:8)
- Keep out of Debts
Bible offers many warnings of getting into debts. Debts impose both financial and physical costs. It increases stress and brings negative impact on relationships. God wants you to be obedient to His commandments and also to make wise choices in your life. The minute you go into debts; you lose a portion of your freedom and become servant to the lender (Prov 22:7). This includes money owed to bank loans, credit card companies, relatives, friends or due bills. Seek guidance from God to keep out of debts and owe nothing to anyone (Rom 13:8). It is a sin to borrow and not repay (Psalm 37:21). God’s desire is that all His children are free of debts and they should lend to nations and give generously. Ungodly attitude such as envy, greed or selfishness or lack of contentment drives people to spend more than the income that God has entrusted them. Keep yourself free from the love of money and be content with what you have.
If you are already under the bondage of debts, get out of it by following these steps: pray and seek God’s counsel; establish a budget; list everything you owe; make a debt repayment plan; control the use of credit cards; be content with what you have; have commitment and work hard; don’t give up your faith in God. Remember, God has promised to meet your needs, but not necessarily your wants and desires.
Contentment is an approach to live under God’s will, regardless of the circumstances. God wants you to be free from the bondage to debts and greed. So, learn to be content with your financial conditions. Keep your life free from the love of money. Let your needs be made known to God through prayer and do not be anxious about your needs. God will never leave you, nor forsake you (Heb 13:5, 6; Phil 4:6-7). Love of money is the root cause of all evil and causes you to be unsatisfied with your income (Eccl 5:10; I Tim 6:10).
A little that a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked (Psalm 37:16). A believer should live a life of godliness with contentment and it brings great gain in their life (I Tim 6:6; Titus 2:12). Ask God for His grace and wisdom to live a life with what you have.
- Honesty, Integrity and paying taxes
God is pleased with hard work and integrity. He expects you to do the best using the gifts, skills and talents given to you. Bible doesn’t encourage wealth from ‘Get-rich-quick-schemes’. Wealth gained dishonestly quickly disappears and brings grief to the whole family. Hence, you should gather wealth from hard work and surely it grows over time (Prov 15:27; Prov 13:11). Don’t try to attain wealth by evil means. God despises lying lips and delights in those who act truly (Prov 12:22). Your efforts in getting of treasures or wealth by lying tongue are wasting time and even unto destruction (Prov 21:6).
Bible also encourages every believer to pay taxes. You are expected to be submissive to the authorities and government. Pay all the taxes imposed by the government. Jesus and His disciples paid tax to Roman government. Authorities are ordained by God and whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has ordained and incurs judgement (Roman 13:1-7; Matt 17:24-27; Matt 22:21).
Hence, the mandate of every believer in Christ is to reflect Christlikeness to the world. As a child of God, you should pay taxes, hate dishonest gain, not to show partiality and accept bribe (Deu 10:17; Exo 18:21; Exo 23:8; Prov 10:2; Prov 11:1; Pro 15:27; Prov 17:23; Prov 21:14; Ezek 13:19; Ezek 22:12,13). If you want to have a breakthrough in your finances, get the counsel from God and be willing to put in some hard work. Diligent work helps you to earn more money.
- Never Co-sign for strangers
Bible cautions you in terms of surety or co-signing and shaking hands with others. Co-signing relates to debts. Anytime you co-sign, you become legally responsible for the debt of another. You should understand that the lender is unwilling to lend money to the person requesting the loan so, he asks for co-signer. Bible says whoever guarantee to pay somebody else’s loan will suffer (Prov 11:15). Whenever a stranger asks you to co-sign, you can say ‘co-signing’ is not your principle. If your family members or trusted people ask for co-signing: you should discern their needs for taking loan, commit the situation to God through prayer and follows Lord’s leading. Help them as per God’s guidance by giving them money or co-sign provided that you will be able to pay if ever become necessary. Don’t deviate from God’s leading (Prov 6:1-5; Prov 17:18; Prov 20:16; Prov 22:26-27).
Trust God for your blessing. God gives you power to attain wealth and everything in this world belongs to Him. Obey his voice diligently and observe all His commandments. God will make you the head and not the tail. He will open to you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and bless all the works of your hand. You shall lend to many nations but you shall not borrow. Remember, blessing of the Lord brings wealth and there shall be no sorrow or painful toil for it.
(This article is written by Evelin Suji, a teaching professional working in Bangalore)