Is it Wrong for Christians to Seek Wealth?

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A common New Year’s resolution is setting goals for success, often defined by accumulating material riches. The Bible warns of the dangers of pursuing money– so is it wrong for Christians to seek wealth?

What’s wrong with having wealth?

“Riches and honor are with me, enduring wealth and righteousness.”

–Proverbs 8:18

The Bible does not condemn anyone for being wealthy outright. There are numerous stories in the Bible of wealthy people who have received God’s blessing. Wealth is not the problem. The problem is how it is pursued or what someone who has wealth does with their money.

Biblical scholar Ellicott warns that the above verse can be mistakenly taken in the material sense to justify the pursuit of wealth, but says “doubtless the true riches are here alluded to…”

“So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?”

– Luke 16:11

Jesus said:

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

– Matthew 6:33

In other words, seek and prioritize God first in your life, and the Lord will take care of what you need.

The problem of pursuing money

The late Billy Graham said the problem with the pursuit of wealth is that “riches can take our minds off the things of God, and God Himself.”

Jesus said:

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

–Matthew 6:24

Another problem with money is that people tend to rely more on themselves and the power of their wealth, seeing less and less need or reliance on God.

Having more money often complicates–not simplifies–life, as rightly stated by rapper The Notorious B.I.G. in his song, “Mo Money Mo Problems.”

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”

–1 Timothy 6:10

Preaching for wealth? The “prosperity gospel” fallacy

“Prosperity gospel” is a term for a type of religious teaching that promotes the idea that God wants us to have abundance, particularly wealth. Many people criticize the types of preachers who deliver these messages (especially the well-known, wealthy televangelists) because it twists verses like Proverbs 8:18 to imply that God wants us to be wealthy and prosperous in every way. But such declarations run counter to what the Bible teaches about money.

Pastor John MacArthur as harsh words for prosperity gospel and what he calls “toxic television,” referring to it as a “Ponzi scheme.”

“The sale’s pitch is, ‘You give me your money…me the evangelist, me the preacher…and you’ll get rich,'” MacArthur says. “And the truth is, you give him your money, and you’ll get poor, and he’ll get wealthy. And it’s a Ponzi scheme.”

MacArthur referred to the apostle Paul writing to Peter warning against preaching for money, “filthy lucre,” as the King James version calls it.

“Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money,”

– 1 Timothy 3:8

In other words, not preaching for profit.

At least two well-known prosperity preachers have been criticized for asking their followers for donations to help them purchase a jet or a newer, larger one than they already have.