How to think about money the way God thinks about it

By Brad Ettore

Did you know the Bible talks about money more than any other subject?  Since the Bible talks about money - and talks about it a lot - we should also talk about it and understand what God has to say about it.
Many believe that poverty is akin to spirituality and wealth is akin to worldliness.  Similarly,  we often hear the term "filthy rich."  But why would we automatically accuse a rich person of being "filthy?"  Why don't we say "wonderfully rich?"  Can money be used in a filthy way? Sure. But, when money is used the right way, it is a sweet thing to the Lord!  Money can be used in such a way that it a sweet aroma to God!  

Your faith will never rise above your knowledge of God's will in any area of your life.

That is why it is so important to have a solid foundation about God's will as it relates to finances.

Blessed in Every Area of Life

It is God's desire that His children would be blessed in every area of life.  There are no exceptions to that statement.  Any parent would be quite confused by the question: "what areas of life would you like your child to NOT be blessed in?"

 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matt. 7:11)  God does not have a skewed personality that only wants us blessed in some areas of life!  

We don't want to get religious about money – we want to get spiritual about it!  In other words, we want to think like God thinks about it!  For instance, looking at God’s interactions with Abram in Genesis 12 and 13 we see that God includes finances as one of the components of His definition of blessing.

When God told Abram to leave his family and land, He  effectively told him  to leave all his protection and provision.  God told Abram to come out to a place that "I will show you." (Gen 12:1-3)  God told him "I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."   God promised this major blessing to Abram.

So what did the blessing end up looking like in practical terms?  See Genesis 13:1-2: "Then Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, to the South.  Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold."   Abram was rich and it was God's doing.

Part of God's blessing in Abram’s life was in terms of wealth and possessions. God is not opposed to riches – He considers them to be a blessing!

Is money the most important thing?

 Most people start getting off track when they make money the priority or goal of life.  If you believe God wants you to be blessed financially AND you then put that as a priority in your heart, you will get off track with God.  I have been full of joy and miserable in all 3 stages of money (broke, OK, and wealthy). That has taught me a simple but profound truth:  

Money isn't the principle thing

Having been both "broke and full of joy" and "wealthy and full of joy," I prefer the "wealthy and full of joy." But I wasn't full of joy because of the wealth!  The wealth was the proverbial "icing on the cake" - but it's not the cake!  What are some of the things that are better than money?

• Wisdom
• Knowledge
• Understanding
• Marriage
• Children
• Health
• Reputation (honor)

Think about health, for instance.  Would you rather have $1 billion and be wretchedly sick or poor with great health?  Yes, both hypothetical scenarios are bad, but most would prefer to have their health.  In my travels, I have seen many very poor people being particularly happy! Wealth simply does not, in and of itself, bring happiness! That's not where it comes from!

Desiring God vs. Desiring Riches

1 Tim. 6:10 says "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil . . ."  Notice that it says the LOVE of money is the root of all kinds of evil.  We know it's not the root of all evil because the Bible teaches very clearly that sin is the root of all evil.  But, sin in the heart of man, will cause the love of money.  The “love of money” is a heart stance characterized by an overwhelming desire to be rich.

Paul tells Timothy that those who "desire to be rich,” whose focus is money, fall "into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition."  The love of money (the heart posture that has money on the throne) will not produce gain at all!  But, "godliness with contentment is great gain." 

Go after godliness and the contentment that is found not in money, but in your relationship with the Lord.  That's great gain.

The reality is most things that have real power come with warnings.  The warnings that come with a car don't mean "therefore don't drive a car." The scriptures simply give us warning against the power of money - it wants to take over your heart so God gives us warnings about the dangers of it.

God is not saying "therefore I don't want you to have money."   Don't get a wrong understanding simply because there are warnings with it. All of 1 Tim. 6 is a warning label.

Having Riches vs. Trusting in Riches

Mark 10 shares the story about a rich, young ruler coming to ask Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life.  Jesus told him to keep the commandments.  The young man told Jesus that he had kept all of those since his youth.  Jesus said, "OK, you lack one thing . . . sell all that you have and come and follow me."  Jesus effectively brought up the first commandment "you shall have no other Gods before me" by asking the young man to sell his god - money - and follow Him instead.  Mark tells us this young man unfortunately went away sad "for he had great possessions."  

Jesus turned this into a teaching moment with His disciples, telling them "how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God!”  A trust in riches can cover up (in some measure) how lost and destitute a wealthy person actually is. 

Jesus was addressing a heart stance with the young man in order to set him free of a bondage to money.

God is not opposed to us having things, but He is opposed to things having us.  He is for riches when our heart is right!

With a right perspective about money, the financial principles of the Kingdom of God will actually work because you'll have your heart right - you'll be lined up with the Kingdom of God.

Money, in God's eyes, is a beautiful thing when used His way. God wants the world to see His benevolence, to see His heart, through us!  How can that be accomplished if we are broke? God wants us to have money - but He wants us to have it with a couple things lined-up correctly:

• Money is not our source.  He is!
• Don't get haughty or proud when we have riches.  When you have money, have humility and say "this is from the Lord - the Lord has blessed me!"

Be like God with money - give, give, give!  Luke 6:38 says "Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you."  You can't out-give God!

When you get blessed the way God wants you to get blessed, there's no sorrow with it. (Prov. 10:22)  

Pray with me.
Thank you, Father, that we are your precious children, you love us so much and you want us to be blessed. I pray you enlighten our hearts and eyes to think about money the way that you do. I ask you show us where our hearts or not lined up with yours so that money is not our source or security - you are. Shine a light on our path and direct us in the way of humility and generous giving and that we will truly know that everything we have and own is from you and you alone.

In Jesus name, Amen.
For more teaching on biblical perspective of money, check out the Agathos sermon series linked below.