Contrary to what some believe, the phrase “wealthy Christian” is not an oxymoron. Wealth and Godliness are not necessarily contradictory terms – it all depends on the motives. Building wealth for the wrong reasons does not produce Godliness but the right reasons will. Let’s dig deeper.
Five Wrong Reasons For Building Wealth
1. Advice from an “expert”
I know a couple who started buying houses because some financial guru told them there is a great future in real estate. The problem was not the investment itself; it was that they were making financial decisions solely on someone else’s counsel without thoroughly researching that advice and dovetailing it into their own short term and long term goals. Not surprisingly, they got in over their heads and had to unload some houses at a loss.
Seeking advice is actually a good thing. Proverbs 15:22 reads, “Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed.” Therefore, it is good to listen to seek out several trusted friends and experts for financial advise. Listen and learn and think. Discuss your options with your spouse. Make sure the two of you are on the same page. But never leap into any business venture because you heard it was a “great investment”. That is a bad reason.
2. Everyone is doing it.
Keeping up with the Joneses can be more subtle than you think. Have you ever bought a car because someone you admire has one like it? Do you eat at a certain restaurant because it is the “place to go”? Did you get those season tickets because your friends are all getting them? Did you choose that European vacation because that is what the “in” people do? Following the crowd is a sign of insecurity and desire for acceptance. Many will overspend in their desire to emulate someone else, but even if you can easily afford these things, building wealth in order to keep pace with others is not a good reason to do so.
3. Winning a competition
While friendly competition can sometimes bring out the best in us, competition in the realm of finances is an unhealthy game. If you feel like you must out-earn or even out-give anyone in order to win, you will never win. In the first place, someone will always be able to outdo you. But even if you “win”, you have still proved nothing.
If your brain is wired in sports mode, think in terms of cooperating instead of competing. You and your wife are a team. You and your fellow church members are a team. You and God are a team. Be the best team player you can be and you will always be on the winning team.
4. Love of money
People who love money simply because it is money have a warped view of money. These are the people who hoard. Do you love money? If so, you probably have no benchmark established to determine how much is enough. In fact, for you, there will never be enough. You love to check your portfolio to see how much you have, but you always want more. This can be true whether your net worth is $1,000 or $10 million. You are chasing something you will never catch. If you don’t change your priorities you are destined to live a one dimensional, selfish and shallow life.
Hebrews 13:5 tells us, “Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’”It is OK to love. Just don’t let money be the object of your affection. Love God first and love others second. The money will take care of itself. Jesus put it this way, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Mat 6:33
This is a bit of an enigma because scripture tells us to be wise with our money…to save and plan and be able to be able to live without being constant financial stress. Yes, we are to be wise, but if we believe that we can build enough wealth to give us security, we are mistaken. First, whatever we accumulate here on earth can be taken away or lost. Secondly, financial security is a ruse. Why? Because it is a cheap counterfeit to true security which can only be found in a relationship with Jesus Christ.
True security will satisfy your deepest needs and can never be lost. Financial security, even if you had enough money socked away to cover all your needs for the rest of your life, will not give security for the life to come. Wouldn’t you like to realize your purpose here on earth and live out that purpose with the knowledge that your eternity is taken care of? That is true security. It can come only from God.
What is the Right Reason to Build Wealth?
To enable givers to give generously
The late Larry Burkett said it thusly, “There is only one reason that God provides a surplus of wealth to a Christian – so that he will have enough to provide for the needs of others. Because true wealth comes with the gift of giving (related: 21 giving bible verses), God promises His blessings to all who freely give.”
As Paul is challenging the church in Corinth to give to the impoverished believers in Jerusalem, he explains, “You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.” 2 Cor 9:11 If God expects us to be “generous in every way”, it is up to Him to make us “enriched in every way”.
God wants what is best for us. He also knows us better than we know ourselves. God wants us to be great givers, not only so those who are needy can be helped but also because we are truly living out our purpose when we are giving. Do you want to be wealthy? Great. Start by giving. As you give to others, God will enrich your life. Who knows? You might be able to fund numerous missionaries, meet health needs in third world countries, pay for a childless family to adopt, or buy that single mom a new car. Sound like a great life? Go for it. Start giving today.
You will experience wealth beyond measure.
Can you think of other good reasons to build wealth? How about wrong reasons?
Two posts that I highly recommend on the topic of wealth building and giving are: