“Real riches are the riches possessed inside.”
–B.C. Forbes, founder of Forbes magazine
Weeks ago, I introduced the topic of money and I suggested that God is more concerned about the proper utilization of money (how it’s being used) rather than the actual possession of it (how much we have). Click here to see that specific post. In this post, we’ll look at how God expects us to use money in ways that will ultimately bring glory to Him.
As I’ve already mentioned, the actual possession of money is neither sinful nor wrong. We will need to use money in order to participate in this world on an economic standpoint. However, we should always be concerned about how we use the money we have in our possession. And as usual, we’ll look to the Bible for guidance. So how does God expect us to use the money that comes our way in this world? There are two primary ways that God expects money to be used.
Money should be used to provide for our families. It’s clear in Scripture that money is to be used to provide for us and our families. The whole point of working is so that we can sustain our families with the physical needs that we have. Since the fall of humankind in Genesis 3, work became hard and difficult. It’s part of the curse. Get used to it. Our food and sustenance come as a result of hard and difficult labor. God said to Adam, “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread” (Genesis 3:19, ESV). And so the primary use of money is to provide for us and our families with the basics of food, clothing, and shelter. The apostle Paul had some pretty strong words for those who don’t provide for their families: “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8, ESV).
Money should be used to help those in need. It is God’s expectation that we, followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, will use money to aid those who are in need. The second greatest commandment states our responsibility quite clearly: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31, ESV, emphasis added). And part of loving your neighbor as yourself is by helping them when they are in financial trouble. The New Testament emphasizes this idea time and time again. I challenge you to read the New Testament with the lens of helping those in need. You simply can’t miss it. The apostle John urges us to lay down our lives for others as Christ laid down His life for us (1 John 3:16) and that “if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” (1 John 3:17, ESV). It’s a sober reminder for us to help those in need when we have the money to do so. It’s our responsibility. Other passages to look at include Romans 12:13, 2 Corinthians 8:1-15, and Ephesians 4:28.
The book of Acts paints a beautiful picture of the early church where nobody in the believing community was in need because people took care of each other. Luke recorded, “There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostle’s feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need” (Acts 4:34-35, ESV). As a community of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we should certainly strive for something like this. Coupled with the ideas of simplicity, it’s certainly not such a far-fetched idea to achieve a community with no needy people.
These are the two primary ways God expects money to be used. Now this not to say that we can’t use money for other things. However, as we spend the money that we have in our possession, we should constantly reflect on these two main uses. Can we free up our money to be used for more kingdom purposes? We should constantly evaluate and re-evaluate our spending choices to ensure that we are always within God’s desires and expectations.
How else should we use the money that is in our possession?