Christian Views on Wealth and Poverty
As a group of chosen people, we live differently because we have higher calling from above to stimulate us to have a different world view. However, Christians are still humankind, of blood and flesh and also being involved many social actives. Therefore, we cannot avoid interacting with money. We cannot be like someone who treats money is life, and we also should not be like monks who afraid to talk about money. Since we cannot evade money in our lives, it is so important for Christians to have a well-founded value of money management.
Christians are engaged in a variety of professions, including workers, peasants, soldiers, doctors, teachers, lawyers, artist, engineer, etc. Different professional occupations can work in different positions to create the value of their life, to make some achievements and contributions in the society, being a good testimony and glorifying God. When we are loyal to our duties, work hard on our position, and it is reasonable to have some remuneration. The value of life probably can divide to two aspects: one is the personal responsibility and contribution to the society; Second, being respected and satisfied from society. This is what we usually call “contribution” and “gain,” these two aspects always happen together, and it is inseparable. People produce wealth for the people in the country, at the same time, oneself also get a corresponding return from the country or society. Work and get paid, this is reasonable, also accord with the Bible’s teaching. In the book of Deuteronomy 25:4 says,
“You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain.” And Luke 10:7 says, “for the laborer deserves his wages.” As Christians, when we in our job, we must be conscientious, but not idle, so we can justifiably to get paid.
How do we use that money that we earned through our diligent work? Couple months ago, I heard a message from Pastor John Piper. In his sermon, I have learned that spending money is also a way to worship God, and it can represent our relationship with God. I think this is very true because money is the detector to detect who is the real master in your heart, God or mammon. The primary income of the church is from believers’ offerings. It is a requirement of the Bible Old Testament to offer your 10% income to the God’s temple; it is also in the church’s tradition. Of course, we may not need to be like the former Israelites, they strictly follow the commandment to offer 10% of their total income, but we should not have luxury residential for ourselves, and forget the temple of the Lord is still desolate. According to the record of Chronicles 29, David in his later years before his death, he prepared a lot of gold and silver for his son Solomon to build the temple of the Lord. Countless gold and silver he offered. Every believer has the responsibility for the church’s growth and ministry, for example, the investment in the construction, office expenses, such as the pastoral staff wages, spending on missions. Because we are not only the church members but also the sons and daughters in the House of God, each person should be responsible. In the book of Malachi 3:10 reminds us, “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” As I mentioned before, spending money is a way to worship God, and I think the purpose of worshiping God is to get more close to our God. When we know how to use the money to love God, we must love people as well.
The Bible teaches us to love people again and again, because “anyone who does not love does not know God because God is love.” (1 John 4:8). Of course, we need to support and help each other between brothers and sisters in the church. The principle is that the rich to help the poor, the strong to help the weak, makes the love of God be shown through our good deeds, not only in the church but also promote this love to the society. So as to become the light and salt in this world, to honor God. Certainly, love has a variety ways to convey, but money is the most directly way to help others out of distress in the short period. We should not be like Pharisees, setting in the high position and teaching people how to obey the commandments. However, they never have a heart to the poor. Apparently, they don’t love God at all. As James warning us don’t be one of them who says, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?” (James 2:16) So as Christians, we must love and help poor. In page 194, the author emphasizes that “Christians look to the Bible for direction and instruction concerning the issues of life. The Word of God is not silent on the issue of poverty, but rather addresses the issue head-on.”
Back to talk about the how should a Christian view wealth. Jesus said: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26) Paul also said in the Book of 1 Timothy that “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.” Many examples of greed in the Bible can be our vigilance. Having an insatiable desire such as Samson, lost the strength, and finally lost his life; Gehazi loved silver, and he had leprosy; Judah betrayed his Savior for 30 dollars. Eventually, he committed suicide; Anania’s desire on frames and both died. The results of these greedy people are very bad. As Christians, we must conquer the “greed.”
A long time ago, there were two friends, saw a philosopher ran out of the forest panicky. So they asked him what happened. The philosopher said: “in the woods, I saw something can kill people.” Two people asked back: “did you say there is a tiger?” The philosopher said: “is not a tiger, but far fiercer than a tiger, I was digging herbs, and I dug out a pile of gold.” The two quickly ask: “where is it?” “It’s in the forest.” The philosopher replied and ran away. Two friends immediately ran into the place where philosophers told them, and they found many golds.
One of them said: “the philosopher is stupid; how can the gold eat people. “Another one said, “let’s think about a good idea to transfer those golds to another secure place and transfer those at night secretly since it is not safe to take these gold away under the daylight. So, one of us should stay here to watch over the gold, and another go home to make some food!” A man left to home to get some food. The one who stays there sat down and think: “what a pity, it would be great if only myself come to here today, now he will take half of those golds.” He kept thinking, “I cannot let those treasures be separated, I will put him to death with a knife stab.” At the same time, the other was thinking, “why should I give him half golds? I am in debt and have no pension, and I can’t give him half. I should put some poisons in the food, and kill him.” As a result, one was stabbed to death, and one was poisoned to death.
When you have some wealth, you should feel satisfied and give thanks to the Lord by giving away to poor. God commanded to Israelites that “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest.” (Leviticus 19:9)
And the Bible also tells us that:
Constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and[a] we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 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 6:5–10)